Nitrate-Discharging Steel Company Ordered to Provide Safe Drinking Water for Town Residents

June 23, 2000

The EPA has ordered a Pennsylvania steel manufacturer to provide safe drinking water to its town's 4,000 residents as an alternative to the nitrate-laden water contaminated by discharges from the mill.

Since 1995, AK Steel Corp. in Zelienople, Penn., has more than tripled its waste discharges into Connoquenessing Creek, the main water source for the town. The high discharges of nitrate, up to 29,000 pounds per day, are causing nitrate levels to rise above the national standard of 10 mg/l. The creek sometimes shows nitrates as high as 100 mg/l, and registered a peak of 175 mg/l on Oct. 26, 1999.

Drinking water with high concentrations of nitrates can cause serious illness and death in infants younger than six months of age from a condition known as "blue baby syndrome." For the past two years the city has provided bottled water to pregnant women and infants. EPA's order requires an alternate water source, such as bottled water, for all customers of the Zelienople water system at cost to AK Steel.

(Source: Public Works Online)

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