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CFPUA responds to elevated levels of contaminants detected in Greensboro

Beginning immediately, raw and treated water samples will be tested daily
Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:59 PM EDT
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SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. (WECT) - In response to a report from the City of Greensboro that detected high levels of 1,4-dioxane in discharge from the T.Z. Osborne Wastewater Treatment Plant, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has begun more frequent water sampling.

Staff members at Greensboro said they detected 615 parts per billion of the contaminant in samples of discharge tested on Wednesday, June 30. This has been a problem for the T.Z. Osborne Wastewater Treatment Plant before. The City of Greensboro signed a consent order with the state in 2020 to reduce discharge of 1,4 Dioxane from their plant. Staff members were testing water discharged from their plant as part of that compliance agreement when the latest elevated levels were discovered.

The 1,4-dioxane compound is a forever chemical, like Gen-X; however, because the contaminant was detected around 200 miles northwest of the Cape Fear Region, officials say it is expected to undergo significant dilution before it reaches CFPUA’s intakes at Kings Bluff.

A solvent stabilizer, 1,4-dioxane is considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to be a “likely human carcinogen.” Although 1,4-dioxane is not regulated, the EPA has established a drinking water concentration representing a 1-in-1 million cancer risk level for 1,4-dioxane of 0.35 parts per billion.

The majority of CFPUA’s customers are supplied by water treated at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant north of the Isabel Holmes Bridge which is equipped with an effective filtration system, according to information from CFPUA.

The Sweeney Plant, which treats water from the Cape Fear to produce drinking water for about 80 percent of CFPUA customers, is among the few facilities equipped to treat 1,4-dioxane. Ozonation and biological filters at Sweeney typically achieve about two-thirds removal of 1,4-dioxane from raw water during treatment.

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and Brunswick County Public Utilities were been notified Thursday of elevated levels of 1,4-dioxane from the Greensboro treatment plant.

Beginning immediately, raw and treated water samples will be tested daily. Test results are expected from CFPUA’s contract lab early next week.

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