December 23, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - EPA urges testing for hexavalent chromium

Jan 03, 2011

December 23, 2010 - Bend Bulletin - EPA urges testing for hexavalent chromium

EPA urges testing for hexavalent chromium

By Lyndsey Layton / The Washington Post

Published: December 23. 2010 4:00AM PST

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency is suggesting that water utilities nationwide test their drinking water for hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen, after an independent survey released earlier this week found the chemical in tap water drawn from 31 cities, including Bend.

A sample drawn last spring from the Avion Water Co. system — which serves approximately 10,820 residential customers in southeast Bend and 1,316 commercial, irrigation and fire protection customers — measured hexavalent chromium at 0.78 parts per billion, 13 times above a proposed California standard for hexavalent chromium in drinking water. But Avion has questioned the findings, saying the water samples submitted for the study may have been compromised

The EPA said Wednesday that it is issuing guidance to the utilities explaining how to test for the chemical but is not requiring tests at this time. The agency said it will also give technical help to the 31 cities identified in the survey so they can set up a monitoring and sampling procedure for hexavalent chromium, a chemical made famous by the film “Erin Brockovich.”

George Hawkins, the general manager of D.C. Water, said his agency will follow the guidance issued by the EPA. “If additional testing needs to be taken to make sure that what we’re doing is protective of public health, that’s what we’ll do,” he said.

Testing for hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6, is technically challenging. Many laboratories that handle standard tests for water companies are not equipped to perform the more sophisticated tests.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson met Tuesday with 10 senators representing some of the 31 communities to discuss the findings of the survey, which was conducted by the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization.

Published Daily in Bend Oregon by Western Communications, Inc. © 2010

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