Machinery Leaks Toxics into New York Citys Water

The EPA is proposing to replace leaking equipment that may be sending toxic contaminants into New York City's drinking water.

Machinery in four gatehouses that regulate the flow of water entering and exiting the city's West Branch and Kensico Reservoirs is leaking lead, mercury and PCB contaminated oil. The 50 to 60 year old sluice gate operators use mercury as a sealant and contain oil that may be contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Manometers, which measure water flow through the gates, contain mercury, and the actuators that control the flow of water through 48 inch pipes contain mercury and oil. Lead has been detected within the sluice gate operators outside appropriate containment areas.

"Because the contaminants are in equipment that sits directly above the drinking water, it stands to reason that they have probably leaked into the drinking water over the years. EPA and the city have done extensive sampling, and, fortunately, no detectable levels of PCBs, mercury or lead have been found in the drinking water," said Jeanne Fox, EPA's regional administrator. "That said, we still need to get the equipment and buildings cleaned up as soon as possible. The city has not only agreed to a schedule for complete remediation, but also to a number of interim measures that will further protect the drinking water."

A proposed agreement between EPA and New York City would require weekly monitoring for mercury, lead and PCBs, and order the replacement of all the faulty equipment by May 2003.

The proposal is available at: www.epa.gov/region02/water/nycshed/order.htm

SOURCE: Environment News Service

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