Cancer-causing chemical no longer found in Sauk Village water
SUN-TIMES MEDIA August 14, 2012 3:28PM
The Sauk Village Waterworks Dennis J. Keane, Sr. Main Pumping Station Tuesday July 16, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 16, 2012 6:18AM
The Illinois EPA said Tuesday that a cancer-causing chemical that has long plagued the public drinking water supply in Sauk Village no longer is being detected in the water.
Temporary air-stripping equipment to remove chemicals recently was installed by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, and new lab results from both the IEPA and a laboratory used by Sauk Village found vinyl chloride to be “non-detect” in the water supply, according to an IEPA release.
In July, the level of vinyl chloride reached the point where, by state law, residents had to be notified of the increase.
Although the Illinois Department of Public Health said the level was below the federal limit and the water was safe to drink, a court order mandated that the village provide bottled water to residents. The Illinois Attorney General’s office on Tuesday notified village officials that they no longer are required to provide the free bottled water, the IEPA said.
Vinyl chloride, a man-made chemical, is found in groundwater from the breakdown of products used in solvent-type chemicals.
“The goal has always been to minimize exposure to this substance,” Illinois Department of Public Health director LaMar Hasbrouck said in the release. “We can now report that the small health risks associated with exposure are now essentially zero.”
The IEPA still is investigating the source of contamination, but vinyl chloride can be indicated from spills or releases from 25 years or more earlier, the agency said.
The IEPA will continue sampling the water supply “on a frequent basis,” it said.
Sauk Village plans to install permanent air strippers at a cost of $860,000, according to village manager Henrietta Turner. Mayor Lewis Towers said Tuesday the state will remove its equipment, but he did not know the time line.
One of Sauk Village’s three wells was shut down in 2009 after the IEPA found unacceptable levels of vinyl chloride, and the agency has routinely tested water at the remaining wells.
In March, Sauk Village voters approved a plan to replace the wells with Lake Michigan water via Chicago Heights. But in June, the IEPA said the $19.7 million cost for the project is not cost-effective. IEPA interim director John J. Kim said work “remains to be done” to find a permanent solution.
Contributing: Casey Toner