Health Advisory

PUBLIC ADVISORY

CUC Health Advisory for PFOS

 

(Tuesday,  June  13, 2017- Saipan,  CNMI)- The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation  (CUC) has detected levels  of PFOS that exceed the Environmental  Protection Agency (EPA) Health  Advisory level  of 70  parts  per trillion in  a limited area of its  drinking  water system.  The affected areas includes  the following villages:   Chalan   Laulau,  Iliying,  Chalan Kiya,  As Terlaje, Kannat Tabla, Fina Sisu  and parts of As Lito.   CUC is  advising consumers  in these villages  to avoid ingesting the water  at this time and until the concentration of PFOS is below the health  advisory  level. Consumers  should   not drink  tap  water,  cook with  tap  water,  or  make  ice for  consumption with tap water. CUC is making  this advisory  action to help the affected population  limit their lifetime exposure to these chemicals.

History

On Thursday, May 19,  2016,   the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued new nationwide drinking water health advisories   regarding two chemical contaminants:   perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic  acid (PFOA).   These health advisories  are based on the latest science available  and help local water systems and regulatory agencies take appropriate steps to address PFOS and PFOA if needed.

PFOS and PFOA are human-made substances and are not naturally found in the environment.  They have been used extensively  in commercial goods (carpets, clothing,  furniture, paper packaging for food) and in materials  that are resistant  to water, grease or stains such as cookware.  They are also used in firefighting foams at airfields and in a number of industrial  processes.   Between 2000 and 2002,  PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the U.S.  by its primary manufacturer.

While consumer products are a large source of human exposure to these chemicals,  drinking water can be an additional source of exposure in communities where these chemicals have entered and contaminated water supplies.   Such contamination is typically localized  and associated with a specific facility,  for example, an airfield at which they were used for firefighting.

EPA has established  lifetime  health  advisories  of 70 parts  per  trillion   for combined  concentrations of PFOS and PFOA in drinking  water.  EPA health  advisories  include  a margin  of protection  from adverse health  effects when consumed  at these levels  over a lifetime.

Studies indicate  that exposure  to PFOS  and PFOA  over certain  levels may result in adverse health effects,  including  developmental   effects to fetuses  during pregnancy  or to breastfed  infants  (e.g., low birth weight,  accelerated  puberty,  skeletal  variations),  cancer  (e.g., testicular,  kidney),  liver effects (e.g., tissue damage),  immune  effects (e.g., antibody  production  and immunity),  thyroid  effects  and other effects (e.g., cholesterol  changes).

What  has  CUC  done?

CUC conducted  unregulated  contaminant  monitoring  of its drinking  water supplies  in 2015 and then again in 2016.  In 2016, EPA requested  that CUC conduct  follow-up  monitoring  of its supplies  for PFOS and PFOA. The results  of this monitoring  resulted  in CUC removing  seven (7) wells near the Saipan International  Airport  from service.

Updated   Information

On May  12, 2017, CUC collected  a sample  from the Isley Booster  Station  1   to monitor  the concentration  levels of PFOS  and PFOA  in the water  supply.  Isley Booster  Station  1  receives  water from the suspected  source  of the initial  contamination.    Results  received  by CUC on June 5, 2017, indicated  the concentration   of PFOS was  120 parts per trillion,  exceeding  the health  advisory  of 70 parts per trillion.

Isley Booster  Station  1   provides  water to the following  villages:  Chalan  Laulau,  Iliying,  Chalan  Kiya, As Terlaje,  Kanat Tabla,  Fina Sisu, and parts of As Lito. CUC  is advising   consumers   in these villages  to avoid  ingesting   the  water  at this  time  and  until  the  concentration    of PFOS  is below the health   advisory   level. Consumers    should  not  drink   tap  water,   cook with  tap  water,   or make ice for  consumption    with  tap  water.  CUC  is making   this  advisory   action  to help  the  affected population    limit  their  lifetime  exposure   to these  chemicals.

What  is CUC  doing  about  the  problem?

It is not possible  to take all wells containing  PFOS  and PFOA  out of service  without  dramatically affecting  delivery  of water to customers.   The goal is to reduce  the combined  concentration  from all wells to below the health  advisory  level.   To achieve  this goal, CUC is taking the following  measures:

  1. CUC has removed  from service  two additional  wells with elevated  levels of PFOS  and PFOA.
  1. CUC is returning  to service  four wells with measured  concentrations  below  the detection level for PFOS  and PFOA  (40 parts per trillion).
  1. CUC will test the current  concentration   of PFOS  and PFOA in all the wells presently supplying  water to the villages  affected by this advisory.  CUC will also continue  to monitor  for these contaminants   at sources  surrounding  the affected  areas.
    1. 4. CUC will report to BECQ and the community  the results  of all further testing.

     

    For more information  about PFOA  and PFOS visit  EPA’s  webpage  https://www.epa.gov/ground/water-and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos             or contact the BECQ  Safe Drinking  Water  Program  at (670) 664-8500.

    A copy of “EPA’s   Fact Sheet on PFOA  & PFOS Drinking  Water  Health Advisory”  can be downloaded  here

    For more  information,   contact  the CUC  Customer  Call Center  (664-4282)   or monitor  our  Facebook page for the latest  updates  (https://www.facebook.com/CommonwealthUtilitiesCorporation/).

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DRINKING WATER WARNING

CUC’s Kagman-7 Well Tested Positive for Fecal Indicator

Affected Area – Kagman I, II, III, and IV

(January 20, 2017)

Our water system recently detected a fecal indicator, E. coli, (see definition below) in the Kagman-7 well. As our customers, you have a right to know what happened and what we are doing to correct this situation. On January 19, 2017, we collected a sample from the Kagman-7 well and the sample tested positive for E. coli.

What should I do? What does this mean?

  • YOU DO NOT NEED TO BOIL THE WATER or take other corrective actions. However, if you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.
  • If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791
  • *Fecal indicators are microbes whose presence indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes. Microbes in these wastes can cause short-term health effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a special health risk for infants, young children, some of the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems.*
  • The symptoms above are not caused only by organisms in drinking water. If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice. People at increased risk should seek advice from their health care providers about drinking this water.

What is being done?

On January 18, 2017, a routine sample from Nika Place in Kagman I contained total coliform. Three repeat samples were collected on January 19, 2017, including the Nika Place site, and all were free of total coliform bacteria. Additonally, CUC tested the 13 active wells that provided water to the Kagman area. Of the 13 wells, only the Kagman-7 well contained E. coli.

Around 2:00 PM January 20, 2017, CUC turned off the Kagman 7 well and it is no longer being distributed to the Kagman area. The Kagman 7 well will be disinfected and tested for E. coli. The Kagman 7 well will only be put back into service once all test results show that the well is free of E.coli. We anticipate resolving the problem before January 27, 2017.

For more information, please contact Richard Wasser, Bernard Keremius, or Heidi Yelin at 664-4282 or PO Box 501220, Saipan, MP 96950. General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.

*Please share this information with all the other people who drink this water, especially those who may not have received this notice directly (for example, people in apartments, nursing homes, schools, and businesses). You can do this by posting this notice in a public place or distributing copies by hand or mail.*

 

This notice is being sent to you by Commonwealth Utilities Corporation, Saipan. State Water System ID#: MP0000001.

Date distributed: January 20, 2017.


CUC Update to Health Advisory for PFOS and PFOA

(August 4, 2016)

On Thursday, May 19, 2016 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued nationwide drinking water health advisories regarding two chemical contaminants: perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). These health advisories are based on the latest science available and help local water systems and regulatory agencies take appropriate steps to address PFOA and PFOS if needed.

The Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) has removed seven of its wells from contributing water to the CUC Saipan water distribution system and is monitoring the quality of water that comes from the Isley Reservoir and Isley Booster 1 near the Saipan International Airport to minimize exposure to these two chemicals.

PFOS and PFOA are human-made substances and are not naturally found in the environment. They have been used extensively in commercial goods (carpets, clothing, furniture, paper packaging for food) and in materials that are resistant to water, grease or stains such as cookware. They are also used in firefighting foams at airfields and in a number of industrial processes. Between 2000 and 2002, PFOS was voluntarily phased out of production in the U.S. by its primary manufacturer.

While consumer products are a large source of exposure to these chemicals, drinking water can be an additional source in communities where these chemicals have contaminated water supplies. Such contamination is typically localized and associated with a specific facility, for example, an airfield at which they were used for firefighting.

EPA has established lifetime health advisories of 70 parts per trillion for individual or combined concentrations of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. The health advisories include a margin of protection from adverse health effects when consumed at these levels over a lifetime.

Studies indicate that exposure to PFOA and PFOS over certain levels may result in adverse health effects, including developmental effects to fetuses during pregnancy or to breastfed infants (e.g., low birth weight, accelerated puberty, skeletal variations), cancer (e.g., testicular, kidney), liver effects (e.g., tissue damage), immune effects (e.g., antibody production and immunity), thyroid effects and other effects (e.g., cholesterol changes).

CUC conducted two rounds of sampling of its drinking water supply in 2015 as part of an effort to test for unregulated contaminants (PFOA and PFOS are both unregulated contaminants). While there was no detection of PFOA and PFOS in most of the 23 locations sampled from the CUC Saipan distribution system, there were three (3) locations where PFOA and PFOS were detected above the new 70 parts per trillion health advisory concentration amount that EPA issued on Thursday May 19, 2016.

Two of the locations where PFOA and PFOS were detected above the 70 parts per trillion health advisory level are all near the Saipan International Airport. Water from these locations are distributed to the villages of Afetnas, San Antonio, Chalan Piao, Chalan Kanoa, Susupe, Oleai, San Jose, Chalan Laulau, Iliying, Chalan Kiya, As Terlaje, Kanat Tabla and Fina Sisu (see map below of affected areas).Results ranged from 97 parts per trillion to 310 parts per trillion.

The third location well IF-208, serving the Airport Rescue Firefighting Facility, had the highest concentration of combined PFOS and PFOA of 7,220 parts per trillion, and was removed from contributing water to the general CUC distribution system on May 20, 2016.

In an effort to determine the level, scope, and source of contamination, CUC conducted additional sampling of ground water sources (not just water distribution locations) in June 2016. CUC received the results in late July 2016 and with consultation and oversight from the Bureau of Environmental and Coastal Quality (BECQ) determined that there were six additional wells that were contributing significant amounts of PFOS to the water distribution system. On July 29, 2016 CUC removed those six wells from service. It is believed that removing these wells from service will eliminate the elevated PFOS contamination at Isley Reservoir and Isley Booster 1. CUC collected additional samples on August 1,

2016 to ensure that the removal of the wells from service is effective and will notify the public of the results by the end of August. CUC is taking these actions to help the general public limit their lifetime exposure to these chemicals.

For more information about PFOA and PFOS visit EPA’s webpage https://www.epa.gov/ground-water- and-drinking-water/drinking-water-health-advisories-pfoa-and-pfos or contact the BECQ Safe Drinking Water Program at (670) 664-8500.

A copy of “EPA’s Fact Sheet on PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisory” can be downloaded here.

 

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