Residents in the Mizer Addition, housing development east of Newcomerstown, were informed last Wednesday (July 1) that two potentially hazardous materials have been found in a few of the water wells in that area.
Residents in the entire development have reason to be concerned, said Tuscarawas County Health Commissioner Katie Seward. However, there are 10 houses that are believed to be the most contaminated water wells. Those houses are located on East Gate, Washington and Lincoln avenues.
The testing came about after there was a release of diesel fuel from a punctured locomotive fuel tank on the train tracks on Jan. 15, 2015, in the Mizer Addition.
Since January, the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has been testing the outside water sources of residents in the area near the spill.
"The spill may or may not be a blessing. We would have never tested the water (if it wasn't for the diesel fuel spill)," Seward said.
Potential carcinogens Tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and Nitrates were detected in the well water (since most residents in the Mizer Addition have shallow wells). They were found after testing for the full range of potential contaminants in the aftermath of the diesel spill.
See WATER, page 7
"The diesel has no effect on your water now," Seward said. "These chemicals are not related to the chemical spill."
PCE and Nitrates are not found in diesel fuel, she said. But nitrates are commonly found in farming communities and since the ground is very porous, the chemicals could potentially be from run-off.
Seward said she has no idea how long they have been there and where it came from. There is no historical data of water testing in that area to compare today's results to.
She advised those residents who live there are not to cook with the water, drink the water or brush your teeth with the water. She advised that taking quick, cold showers is best since the vapors from the contaminants can also be inhaled from the steam/vapors in the shower or a bath.
Those who are more likely to be sickened by the PCE contaminants are: Those with weakened immune systems, babies, elderly, and those on chemotherapy treatment.
Where as nitrates are absorbed through the gastrointestinal system and, in turn, cause health problems.
Now, what to do next?
Health department officials urge residents in that area to consider installing a whole-house or faucet-specific system with filters to remove the PCE contaminant. They range in price from $100 to thousands. Whole-house systems would need to be installed by a professional and the faucet-specific filters could be installed by the home owner.
In terms of removing the nitrates, a reverse osmosis system could remove the nitrates. Once again, those are anywhere from $100 to thousands.
"The health department has no authority to tell you to treat your water," Seward said but the residents need to be informed.
Long term, Seward asked if those residents present would consider tapping into the village water lines. However, this would not be a reality for 1 to 2 years and enough residents in that community have to want village water.
In an unofficial show of hands, those residents who didn't want to tap into village water far out-numbered those who wanted village water.
One resident asked if this was the village's ploy to annex the Mizer Addition and make residents hook up to village water and sewer.
Newcomerstown Mayor Jim Friel said, "We're not concerned about that."
A more official survey asking residents in the Mizer Addition may be mailed out to ask each residents opinion on the matter.
In the meantime, if you are not sure whether your water has been tested and do want it tested, call the Tuscarawas County Health Department at 330-343-4928 to have your home tested (you are not required to be home when the sample is taken and it can be obtained from an outside water source). Testing is free of charge to home owners in the Mizer Addition and results are being rushed with results back in 7 to 21 days.