SC residents misled about safety of rust-colored drinking water
For a decade, residents of Denmark, S.C., have been uneasy about the rust-colored water flowing from their taps. Now, it seems they had good reason, according to CNN.
After a year long investigation, CNN uncovered information that raises questions about about water quality, despite assurances by local and state officials. The news outlet obtained information via Freedom of Information requests.
Residents, suspicious of the water quality, began drinking bottled or spring water after state workers began adding a substance to one of the city’s four wells. Residents were told that the substance was meant to regulate the red, rust-like deposits in the water, but it appeared to make things worse, the report said. CNN learned that the substance, known as HaloSan, was never been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to disinfect drinking water.
HaloSan is customarily used as a disinfectant for pools and spas, but not in drinking water. Approximately 3,000 people who live in Denmark’s rural community may have been adversely affected. And a specific group of about 40 residents have come forward to say they believe the contaminated water directly contributed to the myriad of illnesses and maladies they’ve suffered from since 2008.
The EPA and the state of South Carolina are now investigating how the mistake occurred for so many years.
— Nathaniel Cary (@nathanielcary) November 13, 2018
A spokesman for South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has come forward to say that state officials mistakenly believed HaloSan was EPA-approved for drinking water due to the misleading way it was “advertised.”
“The Berry Systems HaloSan treatment unit had been advertised as an effective treatment in the control of iron bacteria and was certified … ” said Tommy Crosby, director of media relations for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
“It was our thinking that it was an approved chemical to be used,” said Gerald Wright, mayor of Denmark, S.C. “We rely totally on DHEC because they have the responsibility and expertise to test, monitor and advise.”
Denmark residents Paula Brown and Eugene Smith said they’ve been calling for something to be done about this issue since their water tested high for lead back in 2010. The couple also told CNN they feared the odd skin rashes and kidney problems their neighbors have complained about for years may be linked to the water.
“How can they say it’s good to drink?,” Smith asked CNN. “I’m not gonna drink it, and I know other people drink it, but a lot of people are drinking it because they have no other choice.”
In an effort to spread awareness, Brown calls regularly to the local radio station to warn neighbors about the water.
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