Decatur PFOA Find Could Lead to Regulations

22 01 2009

GPB News

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are investigating how record amounts of PFOA and other Perfluorinated Compounds (PFCs) turned up in Decatur, Alabama sludge.

The investigation could eventually lead to regulated PFOA standards in sewage treatment, officials say, although much more data and studies would need to be completed before making such a determination. Already, the high levels in Decatur prompted an EPA drinking water advisory for PFOA and PFOS.

The question investigators have is whether Decatur is a unique case.

PFOA is classified by the EPA as a “likely carcinogen,” and numerous studies have linked it to various cancers. It is often described as a byproduct of making stain resistant carpet, and an ingredient in manufacturing non-stick surfaces such as Teflon.

Any new standards could impact a wastewater treatment plant in Whitfield County operated by Dalton Utilities that releases PFOA and other PFCs that eventually end up in the Conasauga River, a source of drinking water for several Northwest Georgia Communities.

Some samples gathered by the EPA in the Conasauga’s surface water have shown 12.5 times the advisable amount for drinking water.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division tested drinking water and fish tissue along the Conasaugua for PFOA and PFCs, but are still evaluating the results from that summer survey.

Dalton Utilities says they need more guidance from permitting authorities, and will not change operations until then.

In an effort to find the sources of PFOA in Decatur, EPA officials have requested information from fourteen companies with Alabama operations, including 3M, Japanese based chemical manufacturer Daikin, and Toray Flurofibers. According to EPA officials, all three chemical companies have been cooperative and are not suspected of any wrongdoing or law violations.

The EPA is also looking into privately held Alabama waste company, Biological Processors of Alabama, Inc, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Read on here.