In a trust-building exercise that appears to have been a positive step forward, the City of Camdenton water supply has been tested by the state and found free of any volatile organic compounds.
While historical data of annual testing of municipal drinking water wells dating back to 1997 show Camdenton’s water to meet safe drinking water standards, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the city agreed to have MDNR staff collect the 2018 annual samples earlier this year. Normally the municipality collects the water itself in April and sends samples in to MDNR for testing and results.
The city and state agency agreed to the change in procedure at the request of CITCAT, the Camdenton TCE Contamination Advisory Team, to ease concerns about the quality of the sampling process, and more importantly concerns about possible chemical contamination of the water supply.
Camdenton has a federally-qualified Superfund site from industrial waste which will likely soon be expanded.
Distrust of the city in regards to the municipal water system and contamination dates to the initial discovery of trichloroethylene (TCE) in the Mulberry Well in the 1990s when there was a lack of communication from the city with the public on what was going on.
Now, according to the recent and past test results, the three city wells currently in use have not been contaminated by the improperly dumped TCE waste.
City water was tested for several compounds, all of which came at a non-measurable rate. This essentially means zero as the level would be so low as instruments could not detect it.
Social media posting to the Camden County Contamination Board group page the day after the CITCAT meeting where the test results were discussed showed that the move by the city and MDNR had boosted confidence in the agencies and the water supply.
According to MDNR, annual monitoring and sampling protocol will continue as regularly scheduled with the next sampling in April 2019. Samples will be collected by trained city personnel and analyzed at the department's laboratory.
A volatile organic compound, TCE is an industrial solvent. Long-term exposure can cause potential effects to the immune system and potential increased risk for certain cancers such as kidney, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and liver, according to MDNR.
Many former works at the manufacturing facility and residents in the vicinity believe some deaths can be attributed to TCE exposure, though a direct connection is difficult to prove in circumstances like these. At least one wrongful death lawsuit against one of the companies involved has been filed.
Exposure to TCE does not necessarily mean that health effects will occur as its effect it dependent on a variety of factors. How a person is exposed, how much they are exposed to and how often and for how long they are exposed being significant components.
The original source of the TCE is a now defunct manufacturing facility at 221 Sunset Drive. Manufacturing was done at this location from at least 1967 to 2012 by first Dawson Metal Products, Sundstrand Tubular Products Inc. and Modine Heat Transfer Inc.
Past investigations revealed contamination at the facility with TCE levels above maximum levels set by the EPA. The facility is located adjacent to a residential area that has been impacted by the contamination through vapors and soil gas. Mitigation efforts have been undertaken to purify the air at certain houses with actionable levels discovered through ongoing testing.
A city well on Mulberry Street was also contaminated as well as a city lagoon and no longer serve customers. Mulberry Well is pumped for a process called stripping to keep the compound from spreading and further impacting ground water.
In December 2017, MDNR also announced that testing at 1225 US Highway 54, known at the time as the Cox building and referred to by MDNR as the Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2, had confirmed TCE contamination at the location that had been temporarily used by Dawson Metal for a year in the early 1970s.
However recent testing at the Camdenton airport where sludge from the contaminated lagoon was once dumped many years ago showed that site to be clear of TCE.