Total Reimbursement in Question

Total Reimbursement in Question

State will pay for a portion of the filtration system.

Four Broad Run Farms homeowners who installed filtration systems because their wells were contaminated with a carcinogen will receive at least partial reimbursement.

At least two residents are seeking full compensation, because the state and county knew that wells had been polluted with trichloroethylene (TCE) as early as 1989. “They should be responsible for reimbursing me 100 percent,” said Denise Mazzan, who lives on Youngs Cliff Road.

Virginia Brown, a resident of Redrose Drive, agreed. “I think they should pay for the whole thing.”

TCE is a chemical used to remove grease from metal parts. Drinking water with small amounts of TCE over long periods of time can cause liver and kidney damage, impaired immune system function and impaired fetal development in pregnant women, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said. Environmental and health officials suspect the Hidden Lane Landfill, located adjacent to the community, is the cause of 22 contaminated wells.

THE VIRGINIA DEPARTMENT of Environmental Quality announced last month that it would finance filtration systems for the residents with TCE in their wells. Jeff Steers, regional director of the Northern Regional Office, had said the department, however, could not use the Virginia Environmental Emergency Response Fund for reimbursement purposes.

Steers said Monday that his department has since researched the matter and decided the state can reimburse the county government if the county pays for the reimbursement. Virginia will only cover the “costs that we would have incurred had we done the installation,” he said. Steers estimated the tally at $3,000 to $4,000. Homeowners have to present receipts to be compensated.

The county would have to decide whether it would pick up the rest of the tab if a homeowner’s expenses exceed that amount, he said.

Bruce Tulloch, vice chairman of the Board of Supervisors, said the county has accepted $88,000 from the department as a starting budget for installations and reimbursements. “The state pays us and we pay them,” he said. “The money is going to be used on an ‘as needed’ basis.”

The supervisors have not decided yet whether to make up the financial difference.

MAZZAN INSTALLED the filtration system in response to a letter from the Department of Health advising residents to make that move. She said the state or the county should provide full reimbursement. She spent $6,900 on a comprehensive filtration system to ensure other landfill contaminants do not make her children ill.

“I am very angry, because I know with all of the research I did, … TCE is not the only thing that is going to come through our wells,” she said. She cited Office of Solid Waste Management records that indicate cars, refrigerators, freezers and other pollutants were dumped in the Hidden Lane Landfill. “Asbestos could be in there,” she added.

Brown said the county nor the state have notified her about the compensation. She said she could have paid $3,500 for the system, if she paid cash. Because she financed it, the total was $3,850. She also had to pay another $375 for a pressure tank to work with the system.

The device, installed in early May, had to be dismantled because the pipes leaked. She had it reinstalled May 23 and has been waiting for another water test to ensure it is clear of TCE before drinking it.

Brown said she was annoyed when the state first announced it would provide filtration systems for the residents, but would not provide reimbursement. “But I tried to keep the faith,” she said. “Our civic association president was working very hard on this. I went with the flow and hoped for the best.”

STEERS SAID there is a possibility that other contaminants would migrate into the wells if source was not cleaned up “As far as how strong a possibility, I couldn’t rate it,” he said. “We don’t know what other contaminants there are in there.”

Richard Doucette, waste program manager for the department’s Northern Regional Office, said ground water samples would have to be collected to get a better picture of the situation. “It depends on the chemical properties and how mobile they will be,” he said. “Some metals tend to bind to the soil and won’t be as mobile as TCE.”

Loudoun Health Department Director David Goodfriend sent out letters dated May 17 notifying residents with TCE contaminated wells that they qualify for free filtration systems.

He wrote, "Importantly, this will not affect your potential exposure through bathing in this water, and we do not believe that an additional few months of exposure to contaminated water will pose a health hazard to your family.”

Mazzan took exception to that. “I am just shocked Dr. Goodfriend is telling us in all those letters in the beginning, “Do not drink it. Don’t shower in it. Get a filtration.

“Now he is telling us the effects of a couple more months would not be severe compared to 20 years of it.”

The Hidden Lane Landfill, which operated without a county permit from 1971 to 1984, repeatedly violated restrictions on what was allowed to be dumped at the site, Office of Waste Management records show. County and state officials say they cannot identify everything that was placed in the ground.

The Environmental Quality Department has committed to testing the landfill. Steers said a dozen residents have asked for the filtration systems so far. He predicted they would be installed in two weeks.