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Drinking Water Tests to DEP (Released: 10/23/00)

By Karen Grava, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- The University of Connecticut has notified the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that benzene exceeding safe drinking water limits was found in a residential well on North Eagleville Road.

This notification procedure is required as part of the University's Consent Order with DEP on the investigation of the former landfill and closed chemical pits. Representatives of DEP and the University notified the occupants and the University began to supply bottled drinking water to the home today. Representatives of the Town of Mansfield, the Eastern Highlands Health District and the Connecticut Department of Public Health were also notified of the findings. The University will install a carbon filter system to treat the water in the home next week.

Thomas Callahan, UConn associate vice president for community relations, called and visited the homeowner to express the University's concern and reinforce its commitment to a thorough investigation of the issues and appropriate remedial action for this well. The University will make arrangements to connect this home to its water supply.

The team of regulators (CT DEP, CT DPH and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), consultants for the University and representatives of the Town of Mansfield and the Eastern Highlands Health District will meet on Tuesday, Oct. 31, to discuss the findings and their implications for sampling other wells in the area. After consulting with DEP and DPH, the University will determine what additional actions it will take consistent with the terms of the Consent Order.

The information was collected as part of the University's efforts to remediate potential impacts from the closed landfill and former chemical pits as part of its Consent Order with DEP. As part of the investigation, consultants for the University are collecting samples from active residential wells chosen by DEP for interim sampling until the investigation is completed. This sampling program was originally initiated by DEP in response to community concerns. DEP collected four rounds of samples between June 1998 and December 1999. The results of that sampling did not indicate any violations of state action levels. The findings of the last round of DEP's sampling were consistent with previous sampling rounds. (The currently polluted well on North Eagleville Road was not included in this round of sampling.) The Department of Public Health also completed a Health Consultation on the results in conjunction with The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) that concluded the sampled wells provided water that was safe to drink and presented no public health threat.

After the University submitted its report on the preliminary investigation of the landfill and chemical pits to DEP in December 1999, the agency asked the University to assume responsibility for sampling seven domestic wells on a quarterly basis in locations south and southwest of the landfill and former chem pits beginning in 2000. DEP chose locations with bedrock or deep wells closest to the landfill in the direction of groundwater flow as determined by the preliminary investigation. The well on North Eagleville Road is included in this program and was sampled for the first time on Sept. 28 of this year.

Residents in the impacted area who have questions about their wells should contact Rob Miller, Eastern Highlands Health District, 860-429-3325, or Mike Harder, DEP, 860-424-3701. (Miller and Harder will return residents' calls if they reach voice mail.) The area of potential impact is along North Eagleville Road in the immediate vicinity of Hunting Lodge Road and south of the intersection of Hunting Lodge Road and North Eagleville Road.

October 2000 Releases
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