Shenango River water declared safe to drink

Pennsylvania American Water Co. officials say water taken from the Shenango River is safe to drink.

By Nancy Lowry

New Castle News

New Castle’s drinking water is safe for consumption.

“We are closely monitoring the situation but want to emphasize that the water provided to Pennsylvania American Water’s New Castle area customers continues to meet all state and federal drinking water quality standards,” said Gary Lobaugh of Pennsylvania American Water Co.

Concerns were raised Tuesday after a release was issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission announcing high levels of polychlorinated biphenyl were detected, and fish taken from the river were not safe to eat.

The “do not eat” advisory covered all species of fish caught in the Shenango River in Lawrence and Mercer counties between the Shenango Lake Dam and the mouth of the river in New Castle.

In an email, Lobaugh said the water company received the “do not eat” advisory for fish caught in the Shenango River, which is the drinking water source for Pennsylvania American Water’s New Castle Treatment Plant.

The advisory, he said is the result of unacceptable levels of polychlorinated biphenyls, PCBs, found in the tissue samples of fish.

Pennsylvania American Water said it annually samples for PCBs as part of its required three-year Synthetic Organic Chemicals testing. The samples collected in April and July, he said, did not detect any levels of PCBs in the treated drinking water. The company’s 2014 organic chemical samplings also did not detect PCBs in the drinking water.

“Pennsylvania American Water’s treatment processes are designed to remove these types of harmful substances,” he said. “Our New Castle treatment plant uses activated granular carbon filtration, which would effectively eliminate PCBs from the finished water that we deliver to customers.”

Lobaugh said Pennsylvania American Water “is committed to providing safe drinking water to our customers that meets or exceeds EPA drinking water standards and we will continue to share PCB sampling results with the DEP to aid in their investigation of the source of this contaminant in the river.”

nlowry@ncnewsonline.com

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