Chemical pollution prompts shutdown of South Jersey water treatment plant

David Madden
October 22, 2019 - 3:14 pm
Bellmawr’s Warren Avenue water treatment plant.

David Madden/KYW Newsradio

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BELLMAWR, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — Bellmawr has shut down one of its two water treatment plants after traces of a chemical pollutant were discovered at levels higher than deemed safe in New Jersey.

The state was the first in the country to establish standards for perfluorononanoic or PFNA contamination back in January at 13 parts per trillion. The level at Bellmawr’s Warren Avenue plant came in at 19.  

Environmentalists like Jeff Tittel at the Sierra Club would rather it be at zero.

“It’s something that has to be dealt with right away and I’m glad when they found out about it they shut the wells down,” Tittel said. 

Residents were alerted last week but told by borough officials there was no emergency and no need to boil water. 

Still, Tittel is concerned that chemicals like PFNA, and counterparts PFOA and PFOS, are becoming more of a problem.

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“The more we keep testing, the more we keep finding,” he added, “and so it raises a real serious concern because it’s becoming much more widespread than originally thought.”

He figures as many as 50 towns statewide may have a chemical contaminant issue that needs to be addressed.

Prolonged exposure could increase blood cholesterol, impact liver and immune system function and affect development of fetuses and infants.

The borough is using water treated at its Leaf and Bell plant, where PFNA levels are within standards. The Warren Avenue facility will be closed until the problem is corrected.