TOMS RIVER – Treatment plans were started for two of the five wells that tested positive for chemicals known to cause cancer, township officials said.
The properties are in the Windsor Park area of town, which includes the streets Windsor Avenue, Oceanic Drive and Peddie Street (near the lagoons north of Fischer Boulevard) who are on well water, not municipal water. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will be conducting testing for groundwater contamination.
There were 41 private wells that were suspected of being contaminated. Of these, five tested positive and ten tested negative. The other 26 property owners did not give testers access to the property.
Filtration systems were installed in two of the five wells that tested positive. The systems were offered to the other three well owners, officials said.
The chemicals found were Trichloroethylene (TCE) and PCE (tetrachloroethylene). They are considered carcinogens and also impact development in fetuses.
TCE and PCE are man-made chemicals and were used in manufacturing, according to the Centers for Disease Control. TCE is a nonflammable colorless liquid. It was used as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts. It is also found in adhesives, paint removers, and spot removers. PCE is a nonflammable liquid. It is used in dry cleaning and to remove grease.
Federal agencies reported that exposure to the chemicals alone does not cause these diseases. However, the amount of the chemical, duration of exposure, and other factors such as your gender, age, body size, and existing health issues all factor into whether it will make you sick. Epidemiologists who study disease would also add that family history and other environmental exposures would factor into whether you could get sick.
The situation began last year, when a resident notified the town that their well tested positive for both chemicals. The township performed their own tests, there and at neighboring wells, and forwarded the information to the DEP, said Township Engineer Robert Chankalian.
The DEP told the township that they will expand the area to another 42 wells that are several hundred feet from any positive hit in order to be safe.
In the past, some nearby wells had tested positive and had been hooked up to city water, the engineer said. This is the first time the chemicals were reported in this neighborhood.
“The five wells that tested positive are located in two separate and unique areas with multiple surrounding wells that did not test positive for these compounds,” read a statement from the township.
The DEP will again try to engage the property owners who have not yet provided access, noting that they are paying for the tests.
However, if residents in the neighborhood don’t get contacted by the DEP, they can get their well tested privately. The Ocean County Health Department recommends using a certified laboratory and asking for a water test that specifically tests for TCE and PCE.
After the DEP has a positive test, the resident is encouraged to drink bottled water and keep receipts. The DEP will then do a second test to confirm. If this second test is positive, then the DEP will reimburse the resident for the water and offer a filtration system.
If more wells test positive, the DEP will host a public hearing.
Any residents with questions can contact the DEP’s Shana Shepherd at 609-292-1923, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
The township noted that the state standard for these chemicals in drinking water is more stringent than the federal guidelines. The federal standards for contamination is five parts per billion while the state’s standard is one part per billion.
Two of the wells exceeded the federal standard. The other three wells, which were in a slightly different area, exceeded the state standard but not the federal