County Comes to Aid of JWC

Council Agrees to Act as Conduit for Cleanup Funds

JENKINSVILLE – The Jenkinsville Water Company (JWC), which received a Notice of Violation from the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Aug. 19 for high levels of radium in well 15 on Clowney Road, was issued a Consent Order by DHEC late last month detailing the penalties the water company faces if the well remains in violation. The Town of Jenkinsville has stepped in to apply for grant money for the cleanup and Monday night County Council agreed to help facilitate that grant.

County Council unanimously signed off on the grant application during Monday night’s meeting, clearing the way for the Town of Jenkinsville to apply to the Central Midlands Council of Governments (COG) for $240,000 to remove the radioactive sediments in well 15. Milton Pope, County Administrator, said the grant application would have no fiscal impact on the County, which was acting solely as a pass-through to the COG in the process. The funds were requested under an “emergency situation,” Pope said, with a deadline to apply of Oct. 14.

“This will be the second grant on those same terms,” Council Chairman David Ferguson told Council. “We did this some few years ago because of bad wells in the Jenkinsville area, if ya’ll remember.”

Councilman Kamau Marcharia, in whose district the Town of Jenkinsville lies, said the last grant was 10 or 12 years ago, and was not just for bad wells, but because of severe drought conditions as well.

“I’ve heard that water is real bad and some peoples’ dogs have become extremely ill from drinking that water,” Marcharia said. “I haven’t heard anything about an individual being sick or having to go to the hospital, but I wouldn’t trust it.”

Pope said the engineering cost for the cleanup was approximately $19,000. A condition of the application also requires Jenkinsville to utilize the County’s procurement policy when bidding out work on the project, Pope said, “to make sure everything is adhered to appropriately.”

“Those are Fairfield County residents as well and clearly that’s what we’re here for,” Pope said, “to be able to help them.”

Gregrey Ginyard, Mayor of Jenkinsville and president of the JWC Board of Directors, said Tuesday it was too early to nail down a time line for the completion of the project. He did say that the JWC had submitted their corrective action plan to DHEC.

The Consent Order, signed off on by the S.C. Attorney General’s Office on Sept. 19, requires the JWC to submit to DHEC a corrective action plan within 30 days. The Order remains open until the plan has been approved by DHEC, has been implemented and compliance is achieved and maintained for at least 12 months following the completion date, the Consent Order states.

The water company faces a potential penalty of $8,000 should it fail to comply.

DHEC’s Aug. 19 Notice of Violation stated that the Jenkinsville Water Company (JWC) had exceeded the maximum contaminant level (MCL) in well 15 during the monitoring period of July 2013 – January 2014. A chart accompanying the notice, however, indicates that the levels of radium and gross alpha outstripped their MCLs well into June of this year.

Gross alpha particles occur from the erosion of natural sediments in the soil, the MCL for which is 15 picocuries per liter (pCi/L – a measurement of radioactivity in water). Between July and September of 2013, the Clowney Road well’s gross alpha levels were 22.4 pCi/L. Between October and December of 2013, they were 24.7. Those numbers dipped in the first quarter of 2014 to 18.1 pCi/L, but spiked again to 23.7 pCi/L between April and June of 2014, for a one year average of 22 pCi/L – well above the 15 picocuries per liter limit.

DHEC’s MCL for combined Radium 226 and Radium 228, which also occur from soil erosion, is 5 pCi/L. Between July and September of 2013, the Clowney Road well’s MCL for radium was 6.5 pCi/L. That number jumped to 8.5 between October and December of 2013, and dropped off to 5.3 pCi/L in the first quarter of 2014. Between April and June of 2014, DHEC detected only Radium 228, but above the MCL at 6.5 pCi/L, bringing the JWC’s yearly average at well 15 to 7 picocuries per liter.

According to DHEC, “some people who drink water containing” the gross alpha or radium contaminants in excess of the MCL “over many years may have an increased risk of getting cancer.”

In August of 2012, the JWC was slapped with a $14,000 fine by DHEC for failure to issue a boil water advisory to customers within 24 hours of the July 2012 discovery of E-coli bacteria and total coliform in the system, as well as for failure to collect follow-up samples after the contaminants were discovered. The company made its last installment payment on that fine in June 2013.

In June of 2010, the JWC was issued a notice of violation when DHEC found that the MCL for uranium was exceeded in well number 10 at the Blair fire station for the monitoring period of July 2009 through June 2010. The MCL for uranium is 30 micrograms per liter. Between July 2009 and June 2010, well 10 averaged 33.4 micrograms per liter, with a high of 42.5 between April and June of 2010 and a low of 20.4 between October and December of 2009.

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