2005-11-24 / News

North enders contend proposed water unfit for humans

The north end protest against aspects of the former landfill closure and proposed new highway barn at that site continued with two presentations at the last Town Council meeting Nov. 14.

James Cardi of North Main Road, an M.D., wrote of his concerns, noting that he last spoke out six years ago. Susan Little, also of North Main Road, spoke at the open forum to support Cardi.

Cardi elaborated on concerns about water for the proposed barn, as raised at a previous council meeting by other north end residents. He noted that the latest design plan submitted by the town for approval by the state Department of Environmetal Management designates the planned water supply as nonpotable.

At some point, town officials said that water would be bought for the workers to drink at the new barn. Cardi and others have contended that “non-potable” means that the water cannot be used by humans in any way.

“A non-potable well can contain concentrations of various chemicals” that have been recorded at the Jamestown landfill and that some have been tested as exceeding safe drinking water standards, Cardi wrote.

“Non-potable water is dangerous,” he said. He said its use is restricted to no skin contact, no inhalation, and no ingestion. “It should not be used for drinking, showering, or contact with skin, clothing or food,” he emphasized.

The doctor detailed the ways that non-potable water can be filtered and also described the problems with filters and referred to the cost to build and maintain the filters. He said that showerheads, even with filters, usually clog within two to three months for showers that last at little as 90 seconds.

“Using a non-potable water supply for (Department of Public Works) workers is a human health exposure which should not be contemplated,” Cardi wrote. “As Town Councilors, a safe water supply is your responsibility. You cannot depend on the Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Waste Management to weigh in on this subject. Their only jurisdiction is to remediate the landfill. Water choice is yours alone.” he said.

He cautioned also that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act also known as OSHA, will be applied if the non-potable water is used. He said OSHA rules are that non-potable water cannot be used for drinking, washing, cooking, washing any implement used in cooking or eating, or for employee restrooms.

Little, a frequent speaker in recent months on the landfill issues, agreed with Cardi and reminded councilors of previous reports of officials that “it is not if, but when” pollution from the landfill will trickle into the wells of property owners in the area of the landfill.

She asked them to provide an answer to property owners whose wells would be impacted. The north enders want promises of access to town water if their wells are affected. The town so far has agreed to test the wells of the closest 13 land owners.

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