News Briefs: Report Finds 43 States Affected by PFAS

Also in this week's water and wastewater news, a hazmat team responds to a 300-gallon fluoroacetic acid spill in Ohio

A recent report by the Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University finds that 610 locations in 43 states are contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. Using data from the Pentagon and water utility reports, the study claims an estimated 19 million people are exposed to contaminated water.

“This should be frightening to all Americans in many ways,” David Andrews, a senior scientist for the Environmental Working Group, told CBSN. “These chemicals don’t break down in our body and they don't break down in our environment and they actually stick to our blood. So levels tend to increase over time.”

The latest update of an interactive map by EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, at Northeastern University, documents publicly known pollution from PFAS chemicals nationwide, including public water systems, military bases, military and civilian airports, industrial plants, dumps and firefighter training sites. The map is the most comprehensive resource available to track PFAS pollution in the U.S., according to EWG.

Body Found in Alabama Water Treatment Basin

The body of a 23-year-old man identified as Leonard Bennett was found in a pre-treatment basin at a water treatment plant in Birmingham, Alabama.

Public officials from Birmingham Water Works found the body floating in an intake basin at Cahaba Pump Station during a routine walkthrough.

Authorities are investigating the incident.

Hazmat Team Responds to Chemical Spill in Ohio

A chemical spill involving 300 gallons of fluoroacetic acid in the parking lot of the Tipp City (Ohio) Water Treatment Plant required a response from hazmat crews, according to WHIO News.

There were no injuries and no water contamination reported. The city’s assistant fire chief says the water supply for the city isn’t threatened.

Public works officials dammed up the drains in the area to ensure the acid didn’t enter the water supply.

Flint Seeking Wastewater Loans to Make Up for Cuts to Capital Improvement Budget

The mayor of Flint, Michigan, is suggesting cuts to the city’s wastewater treatment budget from $13 million to $10.7 million.

Only a small fraction of that budget, under $1 million, is dedicated to capital improvement projects. That’s why Flint is seeking a $34 million state revolving loan to fund improvements to its wastewater treatment facility.

Public Works Director Rob Bincsik said at a budget hearing that the department is at a critical point, according to “We’re going to get to a point where we can’t treat our wastewater and sewage anymore. We won’t have to talk about drinking water anymore, because we’ll talk about nothing but the raw sewage that gets discharged into the Flint River.”

U.S. EPA Announces $2.6 Billion in Water/Wastewater Funding

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced the availability of $2.6 billion in new funds to assist states, tribes and territories with improving drinking water and wastewater infrastructure across the country.

“EPA’s $2.6 billion contribution to the State Revolving Funds will enable more communities to make the investments needed to ensure Americans have safe water for drinking and recreation. These funds can also be combined with EPA's WIFIA loans to create a powerful, innovative financing solution for major infrastructure projects nationwide,” says EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. 

The six New England states are allotted more than $200 million of this funding through combined Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds include $30,469,000 for Connecticut; $23,304,000 for Maine; $79,479,000 for Massachusetts; $26,883,000 for New Hampshire; $21,673,000 for Rhode Island and $18,783,000 for Vermont.


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