Contaminant found in Moorestown's water again

 A chemical contaminant that led to the shutdown of two of the municipality’s wells last fall has been detected in the water again.

The latest test results show that 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) can be detected at the North Church Street water treatment plant.

Trichloropropane is a man-made chemical typically found at industrial or hazardous waste sites and has been used as an industrial solvent and as a cleaning and degreasing agent.

QC Laboratories took the samples on July 24 and found TCP levels at .07 micrograms per liter. The findings came just weeks after tests in June showed no detectable levels of the chemical.

Even though the amount of TCP in the water was similar to what was found in September before the shutdown of the wells, officials said there is no reason for residents to be alarmed.

“Under the worst-case scenario, it’s still not a health concern,” said Township Manager Scott Carew, pointing to a study done by Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting on the risks associated with TCP in the water supply.

The study concluded that the potential for non-cancer risks was found to be low, with margins of exposure over 1,000 times lower than the drinking water equivalent level. That level is a water concentration to which an individual could be exposed for a lifetime, with the expectation that adverse, non-cancer effects would not occur.

“All estimated cancer risks for TCP (in the township) are below the EPA target of a 1 in 10,000 extra cancer risk for drinking water contaminants,” according to the study.

The township discovered the chemical in late 2013 after it began testing for it as part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program aimed at monitoring unregulated contaminants.

TCP is an unregulated compound that has been classified as a “likely carcinogen” by the EPA. However, there are no maximum contaminant levels established by the EPA or the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Hawaii is the only state that has set a drinking water standard for the chemical, prohibiting levels from being above .6 micrograms per liter, which is more than 10 times the amounts found in Moorestown’s wells.

Township utility superintendent Bill Butler said the municipality will continue to monitor the wells as part of a pilot study to determine the best available technology to remove the contaminant.

A source of the contaminant found in the township’s wells has not been identified, according to Butler.


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