Fuel spill contaminated drinking water for at least one property

Water Authority does not know how long water had been contaminated

-by Charles Duncan, originally posted on May 1, 2016


A fuel spill on Shedden Road close to the Rubis gas station contaminated drinking water to a nearby property, according to the Water Authority.

The Authority said in a statement Friday that it did not know when the spill occurred but that it did not come from the gas station.

The statement from the Water Authority said that the organization sent water samples to Florida for testing, and the test for one property came back positive on Thursday for fuel-related contaminants. A second property tested within acceptable World Health Organization guidelines’ limits.

It is unclear when the contamination began and how long customers at the unnamed property had been consuming tainted water.

The Water Authority said it is working with government, the property owner, the gas station and consultants to investigate the fuel spill and figure out how to clean it up. It said the Authority alerted the customer with contaminated water to stop using tap water for drinking and cooking.

Water resources engineer Hendrik-Jan van Genderen said the Authority inspected all water meters within a 500-foot radius of the spill and did not find other problems with customer connections.

“Though we do not know the source of the spill yet, the reality is that improper disposal of hazardous chemicals at any level is a threat to public safety and environmental health,” he said. “Substances like fuel and oil must be disposed of properly or you risk the health of your family, your neighbors, and the community in general.”

The Water Authority said it also tested nearby groundwater wells but did not find additional contamination. Despite that, the Authority warned people in the area not to use groundwater for drinking or cooking.

Water Authority director Gelia Frederick-van Genderen said the water system itself was not contaminated.

“The nature of the situation is such that only the pipes that came into direct contact with the fuel spill are at risk of being compromised at the molecular level,” she said. “The Authority’s ability to produce clean, potable water has not been compromised and neither has its distribution network. This is a case of site-specific contamination.”

“Unfortunately, fuel spills do occur, and it is part of the Authority’s mission to ensure that these spills do not negatively impact the public and environmental health of our islands,” Ms. van Genderen added.


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