Nov 11, 2019

Neville Township, Pa., Drinking Water Exposed to PFAS Chemicals

A water advisory was issued Oct. 22 for residents of Neville Township, Pa., after officials discovered drinking water potentially contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

A water advisory was issued Oct. 22 for residents of Neville Township, Pa., after officials discovered drinking water potentially contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Neville Township, Pa., officials revealed that residents may have been drinking water contaminated with toxic levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for as long as a month, according to Public Source.

A water advisory was issued after workers discovered 2,000 gal of liquid had passed from an industrial facility back into the town’s water supply, according to township officials. As much as 600 gal of the backflow could have been a firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.

A backflow valve malfunction occurred at Watson Standard due to a fire suppression system malfunction. Neville officials aren’t sure where the firefighting foam released into its water supply ended up.

Residents were told not to consume any tap water between Oct. 22 and Oct. 25. The township gave away free bottled water in the meantime. It is unclear when the contamination might have occurred, according to a public notice.

The name of the company responsible for the contamination was not released until more than two weeks after the incident, reported Public Source. Watson Standard’s commercial water was shut off as the company worked to install a valve to prevent future backflows. 

"The fact that nobody [had] named the polluter makes me seriously concerned that the township is putting corporate interests above the public's interest,” said Neville resident Amanda Gillooly.

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is testing more than 300 water systems across the state for contamination.

Workers and volunteers called and went door to door to notify residents of the contamination. Volunteer firefighters limited people to one case of bottled water per day and gave out a total of 720 cases of water. An additional 2,500 gal of potable water was available for people to put in containers during the water advisory. 

Read related content about PFAS contamination: 

expand_less