Suez Water addresses Newberry Township regarding test showing potentially hazardous chemicals

York County, PA. --- In front of customers and the Newberry Township Board of Supervisors, Suez Water looked to address water worries Tuesday night.

In March, the state Department of Environmental Protection alerted Suez Water about a customer test the found more than double the health advisory limit of "PFAS" and "PFOA."

The health advisory limit set by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection is 70 parts per trillion.

The customer test showed 186 parts per trillion.

PFAS and PFOA are chemicals that, according to the state Department of Health, have unconfirmed links to health issues including liver damager, high blood cholesterol, some increases in kidney, prostate and testicular cancers in people exposed to higher levels, and potential birth defects.

Suez Water officials say these chemicals are considered a "lifetime" health impact, meaning you'd have to consume it over a lifetime to see health risks, as opposed to an immediate health harm.

John Hollenbach, vice president of Suez Water Pennsylvania, said they've taken proactive steps while working to confirm the customer's test.

Two new water treatment filters have been up and running since April 12 at the Newberry Township sites, thanks in part to an emergency permit issued by the state DEP.

“We weren’t going to wait for the results to come back and then make a decision, we said lets get the treatment in...I hope the results come back that it isn’t in the water but if it is, we’ve had the treatment in place taking it out of the water," said Hollenbach.

Hollenbach said PFAS and PFOA have been in water since the 1950s and were first addressed as a potential concern in 2009.

He added PFAS and PFOA are currently unregulated chemicals, saying state and federal agencies don't have enough information to confirm these chemicals are a hazard.

“Our position is the water is safe the drink," said Hollenbach.

1,500 Newberry Township customers are impacted by the situation, receiving notices in the mail alerting them of their involvement.

Customers attending the meeting Tuesday night came with questions regarding information in the notice, as well as concerns regarding potential health problems associated with the chemicals.

“I’m pregnant and, of course, that little paragraph was like, “Oh, all these fun little birth defects that are going to happen, I don’t like how in the same paragraph, the first is like it’s not an immediate risk. So why should we continue to drink the water if you haven’t gotten your test results back?” asked one resident.

Suez Water officials expect the results of their own testing to come in the next week or two.

They say those results will be made public shortly after.

Hollenbach said those results will help determine what the next steps are.

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