CHARLTON – At the Board of Health board meeting Tuesday, residents heard that ongoing private well water testing around the Southbridge landfill has uncovered one more tainted property, and some homes with unaffected wells will receive bottled water from Casella Waste Systems.
Casella representatives reported in October that 21 residential wells in Charlton had detections of human toxin 1,4-dioxane, and eight had levels greater than safe drinking water guidelines. The company presently provides bottled water to those homes on H Foote Road.
Neighbors of those properties have expressed concern that their homes are next and have asked, repeatedly, for bottled water until the next round of testing.
At a recent health board meeting, Chairman Matthew Gagner told residents he would ask Casella, on their behalf, to supply bottled water to any home not presently receiving it. Seven people raised their hands.
That list quickly grew to more than 20.
“As chairman of the Board of Health, I’m not taking no for an answer,” Mr. Gagner said in an interview Friday.
Mr. Gagner announced Tuesday that Casella has agreed to supply bottled water for 120 days to 17 residents with clean wells who live within an area where the 1,4-dioxane is prevalent.
John Farese, Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park general manager, supplied a map depicting the properties eligible for the courtesy water program.
“The homes in blue outside of the area have requested water, but testing is not showing any exceedance at those locations, so they are not receiving bottled water,” Mr. Farese said. “For those within the area outlined in red, we will continue to supply them water for up to 120 days and will be commissioning the retesting of their wells in April.”
Regarding the latest contamination find, water consultant Gary E. Magnuson of CMG Environmental reported he heard Monday of a new detection at 90 H Foote Road, which is a “J-flag.”
The state drinking water regulation says 1,4-dioxane is dangerous when its concentration exceeds 0.3 micrograms per liter, or 3 parts per billion.
Casella consultant Nicole D. Roy, geologist for Sanborn, Head & Assoc., said water testing lab instruments are unable to accurately measure 1,4-dioxane concentrations less than 2 parts per billion. A J-flag, she said, is an uncertain detection at or below what instruments can measure with 99 percent accuracy.
Results from the unoccupied home at 90 H Foote Road have been J-flags in two consecutive tests.
With new well test results arriving weekly, some of the residential wells with previous safe water exceedances are now J-flags.
Although Casella reported detections at 21 homes, only eight had what the state Department of Environmental Protection called indisputable “positive hits.”
The DEP asked Casella to resample the wells with disputable J-flag results.
Casella, doing business as Southbridge Recycling & Disposal Park, assumed operations of the Southbridge landfill at 165 Barefoot Road in 2004.
The DEP has named Casella the “potential responsible party” for the contamination.
The state has given Casella Waste Systems conditional approval of its response plan for the homes with tainted wells.