The discovery of TCE in drinking water at 22 homes in Broad Run Farms has raised a number of questions. Health and environmental officials offered explanations in anticipation of queries last week, then residents fired off additional questions.
Question: Is the contamination concentrated in an aquifier or a pool of water in the landfill?
Answer: No. Jeff Bar, health technical specialist with the county Health Department, said the water moves through a series of underground fractures, fissures and rock formation as it heads toward the Potomac River. "It may or may not contact your well. It may go around it," he said.
Question: Ray Ryder, a resident, asked Dr. David Goodfriend, director of the Health Department, whether he would feel comfortable giving his child a drink of water from a Broad Run Farms well. Ryder expressed concern that the groundwater could have pushed the TCE outside the contaminated area. He suggested the county should pay for testing of all wells in the subdivision.
Answer: Goodfriend said the county has paid for testing at 67 wells, within the contamination area and just beyond it. The cost of each test runs from $75 to $160.
Question: Priscilla Shingleton, a resident, asked how long would residents be exposed to TCE before possibly contracting cancer or another serious illness.
Answer: Goodfriend said it could take "years to decades."
Question: Mary Lowrey, a resident, asked if construction drilling would penetrate the fissures.
Answer: Richard Doucette, waste program manager of the Department of Environmental Quality, said it should not affect them, because typically, they are deep enough to avoid contact with the drills.
Question: Has surface water from the landfill run off been tested for TCE?
Answer: Jeffery Steers, regional director of the Northern Regional Office of the Department of Environmental Quality, said it is unlikely that the storm water contains any TCE, because the landfill is capped. The state, however, will test the surface water as a precaution.
Question: John Davies, a resident, asked where the first contaminated wells were and the level of contamination.
Answer: TCE was detected in 1989 in wells owned by Veda Marie Walker and Dallas and Fay Brumback. Walker's level was .007 milligrams per liter and Brumback's was .077.
Question: What can residents do about the TCE’s adverse effect on the value of homes?
Answer: Goodfriend said some homeowners might want to do their own testing rather than have the Health Department do it. That way the findings are not public record.
Question: What are the costs associated with providing filtration systems for all of the wells in the contaminated area and the entire Broad Run Farms subdivision?
Answer: Assistant County Administrator John Sandy estimated that installation of 74 filtration systems would range from $259,000 to $333,000 in the contaminated area, and $1.1 million to $1.4 million for the entire community. He also provided an estimate of $29,600 for the annual cost of maintaining 74 wells in the contaminated area, anticipating that the current number of wells would expand. The cost of maintaining the entire subdivision or 303 wells would be $121,200, he said.
Question: What are the costs associated with bringing public water to Broad Run Farms?
Answer: The Loudoun County Sanitation Authority has estimated it would cost $1.7 million to bring the water to the contaminated area. The county's estimates for the same service ranged from a low of $2.1 million to a high of $2.6 million. The LCSA estimated that it would cost $6.1 million to bring water to the entire subdivision. The county's estimates range from $7.7 million to $9.2 million. An additional $7,500 per home would be needed to make the connection and close the wells.