LIMERICK — A public hearing on a proposed solution to the chemical pollution of five residential wells in Limerick, Upper Providence and Perkiomen townships will be held at 7 tonight at the Limerick Township Building on Ridge Pike.
According to Lynda Rebarchak, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Southeast office, the homes are in the area of Ridge Pike, Royersford Road, North Township Line Road and Heffner Road and were part of an investigation that began in 2010.
“Initially, we were looking at a much larger area including as many as 150 homes,” Rebarchak said Tuesday.
“Thankfully, after three years of sampling, we’ve found that only five of the wells have levels of TCE or PCE that are above the safe drinking water standard,” Rebarchak said.
Both, TCE (trichloroethylene) and PCE (tetrachloroethylene) are part of a family of chemicals called volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, that were used very heavily in industry in the previous 50 years and are suspected carcinogens.
Rebarchak said a DEP legal team is currently looking at the ownership of a former Ridge Pike industrial site that operated in the 1980s and 1990s named Roll Form which used TCE to determine if any of its costs can be recovered.
In 2010, after seven years of sampling by the Montgomery County Health Department on Henry Drive, Miller Road, Landis Creek Lane, Heffner Road and North Township Line Road and found traces of the chemicals, the matter was referred to DEP. she said.
However, of the 84 homes that had wells where TCE or PCE were detected, only 22 had levels above two parts per billion, according to DEP results.
The safe drinking water standard for both chemicals in drinking water, as set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is five parts per billion.
Of the 22 remaining, only five wells were above the five-parts-per-billion mark, Rebarchak said.
The highest was a home with TCE levels of 68.9 parts per billion.
Two homes with higher levels have already had house-wide carbon filtration systems installed.
“When you get to levels near 70 parts per billion, there is actually a risk for inhalation” of the chemical when vaporized in the shower, Rebarchak explained.
The DEP is proposing to install similar carbon filtration systems in the remaining homes with contamination above the safe drinking water limit, and to pay to maintain them for two years, after which the homeowners would become responsible for the maintenance.
However, the DEP does intend to keep an eye on the contamination, she said.
“We will revisit this site periodically, and we are planning to install monitoring wells and there are some homes where we will test regularly because of their location, but we still recommend homeowners get their wells tested every three to five years,” Rebarchak said.
The contamination is one of four in the Limerick area to come to light in recent years.