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The Bakersfield Californian: City, water company file suit over chemical in drinking water wells

March 18, 2008

Mar. 18–The City of Bakersfield and California Water Service Co. have filed a lawsuit against the manufacturers of a suspected carcinogen that’s been detected in trace levels in some city drinking water wells.

The chemical, 1,2,3-Trichloropropane, has been found at extremely low levels and is not a health threat, said City Water Resources Director Florn Core. The lawsuit is an attempt to recoup costs for a filtration system before a statute of limitations expires, according to Core. The number of wells requiring filtration wasn’t known early Tuesday but each unit is expected to cost $500,000 to $1 million.

Shafter, Delano and Wasco have already filed similar lawsuits, as have about 10 other communities in California, said Vic Sher, the San Francisco lawyer representing the cities.

The chemical was manufactured by Shell Oil and Dow Chemical, the companies named in the lawsuit. It was added to soil fumigants applied to farm land to control pests up until the 1980s. 123-TCP, as it’s known, was detected in low concentrations in 18 Kern County water systems, and more than 80 systems statewide, as of 2006, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The state is creating a threshold for the amount of 123-TCP allowed in drinking water and has set a tentative goal of no more than 0.7 parts per trillion.

Water suppliers are currently required to report detection of the chemical whenever it is more than 5 parts per trillion. Suppliers must take further steps if the concentration reaches 500 parts per trillion.

California Water Co.’s 2006 annual water quality report for the Bakersfield area showed concentrations of up to 30 parts per trillion. The location and number of wells affected within Bakersfield was not known early Tuesday.

To see more of The Bakersfield Californian, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.bakersfield.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Bakersfield Californian

http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/03/18/3335011.htm

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