January 10, 2006
The Marietta Times (Ohio)
Traces of C8 found in spring
By Brad Bauer
Sam Clatterbuck Jr., an employee of Crystal Springs
Water, Marietta, loads bottled water recently for a delivery to
the Belpre area.
Trace amounts of the DuPont chemical C8 were recently
detected in a Williamstown spring used by one of the bottling
companies under contract with Little Hocking Water Association
to provide C8-free water to its customers.
It is the first time the chemical
has been detected in a water source this far upstream from DuPont’s
Washington, W. Va., Works plant near Parkersburg, according
to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. But until just recently,
scientific equipment was not sophisticated enough to detect the
chemical at the amounts recorded, which were in the parts per
Williamstown is about 18 miles northeast of the
Gary Matheny, owner of Crystal Spring Water, 320
Franklin St., Marietta, said lab results confirmed Thursday that
C8 was present in water collected from his Williamstown spring.
Three separate tests from two labs recorded the amount of C8 in
the water at between 14 and 17 parts per
The chemical has never been regulated by the federal
Environmental Protection Agency, but an interim “safe”
level recognized by Ohio and West Virginia environmental officials
is 150 parts per billion.
It was only within the past six months that the
level of C8 could be detected at the part per trillion levels,
according to the Ohio EPA.
Matheny said he is voluntarily notifying customers
of the contamination this week. Also, a specialized filtration
system has been ordered to remove the chemical from the water
and is expected to be in place by the end of next week.
“We’ve been using that well for 84 years
and we’ve never had a problem with it until now,”
said Matheny. “We don’t know how it got there —
at levels this low it may be something as
simple as Teflon tape on a fitting — but we are exploring
every avenue and we are taking the necessary steps to remove it.”
Crystal Spring Water has been a Marietta fixture
since 1922 and has about 20 employees.
The chemical C8, also known as ammonium perfluorooctanoate
or PFOA, has been used by DuPont since 1951 at its Washington
Works plant in the production of Teflon, which is used in a variety
of consumer goods, including non-stick cookware. C8 taints several
local water districts in Wood County and western Washington County.
It was recently reported by the federal EPA that the chemical
is a “likely” carcinogenic to humans. The EPA’s
review is ongoing.
DuPont has already settled a class-action lawsuit
with local residents and most recently agreed to pay an EPA fine
of more than $10 million for failing to report concerns about
the chemical to the EPA sooner.
DuPont maintains C8 causes no known health effects
in humans. Also, the company said the trace levels of C8 found
in the spring are safe to drink and noted they are “hundreds
of times less than any established regulatory standard.”
In fact, the amounts detected in the spring are
10,000 times below the the established “safe” level.
Crystal Spring Water is one of three bottlers that
contracted last October to deliver bottled water to Little Hocking
Water Association customers until C8 filters can be installed
at the local water system. DuPont is paying for the bottled water
and the filters as part of a court settlement. Some of the highest
levels of C8 are found in Little Hocking wells that serve thousands
of customers in western Washington County.
Matheny said Culligan-brand water is available to
customers who are concerned about the trace amounts of C8 found
in the spring water. The company has been distributing Culligan
water to some customers since September because the Williamstown
spring could not produce enough water to take care of the demand
from Little Hocking customers.
Crystal’s spring produces about 2,800 gallons
of water daily.
Matheny said testing for C8 is not required to sell
bottled water in Ohio or West Virginia. He said Little Hocking
Water Association General Manager Robert Griffin conducted the
first round of C8 testing on the spring water late last year.
After two rounds of testing, Griffin notified Matheny
of a potential problem in mid-December. Matheny hired an independent
lab to conduct tests to confirm the data. Those results came back
“We never imagined we would find it in our
water,” Matheny said. “As soon as we confirmed it
we took the steps to remove it.”
According the latest published samples, the amount
of C8 in Crystal spring water is at least 200 times lower than
what is currently flowing through the Little Hocking water system.
The water system recently recorded levels of C8 at 3,500 parts
per trillion, and has documented the levels as high as 7,200 parts
Griffin referred all questions about the recent
findings to the district’s attorney, Dave Altman, of Cincinnati.
Altman said the water association is also sending out a notice
to those who participate in the bottled water distribution program.
He said customers have a right to know what is in their water.
“It has long been our position that we want
no detectable level of C8 or any other compound in our water,”
He said the trace amounts in the spring water might
not mean much to the average person, but that many Little Hocking
residents have high concentrations of C8 in their blood and they
don’t want to add to those levels.
Altman said the spring water was sent for testing
along with other water samples and Little Hocking water as part
of a control group. He said the tests had nothing to do with the
bottled water program, but that it was part of a study for “possible
future litigation” not involving Crystal Spring.
“Little Hocking was gathering information
on its own,” Altman said. “Little Hocking paid for
(the first two tests) and was not expecting to see anything in
the bottled water.”
Marietta and Williamstown officials said local water
systems have never been tested for C8 and that there are no immediate
plans to do so.
Marietta Safety-Service Director Dave Sands said
assuming the Williamstown tests were conducted properly, it would
not be unlikely for trace amounts of C8 to be found in Marietta’s
Air emissions are thought to be responsible for
most C8 found in groundwater. After falling to earth, the particles
are washed into the ground by rain.
“If air is the method of transport, no, it
would not surprise me,” Sands said. “But the concentration
detected in the Crystal spring is not at a level that causes me
Sands said C8 water detection tests costs about
“The amounts are so miniscule I don’t
believe there is any risk right now that would warrant spending
any tax money,” Sands said.
The position was echoed by Ohio EPA Environmental
Engineer Sarah Wallace.
“If, for whatever reason down the road, the
dangers of C8 changes, we will take that into consideration and
change how we monitor,” Wallace said.