Blades Superfund meeting Dec. 5: EPA seeks input on town’s water issues

Delaware Army National Guard members Spc. Maryanne Hicks and Spc. Christopher Johnson load cases of water during a pickup during the water contamination crsis in Blades in February 2018. In background is Staff Sgt. Emanuel Hodge. Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe

BLADES — Public attendance and input are sought.

State and federal officials will hold a public information meeting Thursday, Dec. 5 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to add the town of Blades to the national Superfund list for remediation of hazardous chemicals found in the town’s water supply last year.

Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced in early November that the EPA has proposed the Blades Groundwater Site to the National Priorities List.

The NPL is EPA’s list of priority sites where there have been releases of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants requiring evaluation for possible remediation. Sites on the list are eligible for long-term cleanup financed under the federal Superfund Program.

The Dec. 5 public meeting is scheduled from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Blades Fire Hall at 200 E. 5th St. Comment from the public is welcome.
Additionally, EPA opened a 60-day public comment period from Nov. 7, 2019 to Jan. 7, 2020.

Comments can be submitted:

• Online, at (Search for “EPA-HQ-OLEM-2019-0484”);

• By mail: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Docket Center, Docket # EPA-HQ-OLEM-2019-0484, Mailcode 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20460.

Drinking water was provided to town of Blades residents following contamination discovery in the town’s wells in February 2018.

In February 2018, officials announced that concentrations of perfluorinated compounds above the human health advisory level (70 parts per trillion) were detected in the town’s three wells used for drinking, cooking and household use.

Primary groundwater contaminants of concern are metals associated with electroplating compounds. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), namely perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), have also been found in groundwater and in eight residential wells and three public supply wells in the Nanticoke and Columbia Aquifers, according to the EPA website.

PFOA and PFOS are contaminants that can cause adverse human health effects.

Potable water from a huge Delaware National guard tanker was provided to town of Blades residents impacted during the contamination event in February 2018.

DNREC requested EPA’s assistance with the management and remediation of the site due to the complex nature of the hazardous chemicals and the extent of the contamination. DNREC worked closely with the EPA and the Delaware Division of Public Health in February 2018 identifying per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination, notifying local officials and the public, and securing safe drinking water supplies.

For several days after that announcement, free drinking water — bottled and potable water from a large Delaware Army National Guard tanker — was made available to town residents until a carbon filtration system was installed.

The filtration system removes contaminates to levels of acceptable drinking water standards. The town of Blades’ drinking water continues to meet Federal and State Safe Drinking Water Act standards, as shared in its annual water quality reports.

Further investigations by EPA will work to identify the sources of the PFOA and PFOS contamination found in the groundwater.

NPL eligibility will allow the EPA to implement Superfund authority and resources to help DNREC continue to investigate and remediate contamination that is a potential hazard to human health in Blades.


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