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State water tests have determined that a new water well for Marshfield Village in Vermont is contaminated with uranium that was reported to be there naturally. The uranium levels showed to be at 69 micrograms per liter--more than three times the state's limit of 20 micrograms. The federal limit for uranium is 30 micrograms per liter.
Eighteen months ago, Marshfield Village, began a new well as its public water supply, replacing an old spring that was determined to be a health threat by state officials.
"If the numbers that we're seeing are correct, we really don't expect to see any disease or illness as a result of the uranium at those levels," said Bill Bress of the Vermont Health Department. "But they are higher than the standard, and the standard is a conservative one. It's meant to have safe water, so some action has to be taken."
The village is providing drinking water to its approximately 110 households free of charge because the water is not to be used for drinking, brushing teeth or cooking. Local stores selling bottled water and treatment methods are seeing an increase in business.
Municipalities with uranium levels exceeding the state standards are required to install filtration equipment, similar to a water softener, to remove the uranium; or they must find alternative water sources.
The state regulations only apply to municipal water systems. Homeowners with private wells, who are concerned about uranium, can test their own water with kits, costing $145, available from the state health department.