Well that supplies water to Amarillo is shut down for tests

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Aug. 4, 2001, 10:01PM

Well that supplies water to Amarillo is shut down for tests Associated Press

AMARILLO -- A water well in Carson County that supplies more than one-third of Amarillo's water has been shut down to determine whether chemicals from a nuclear weapons facility are endangering public water supplies.

The city will be deprived of a million gallons of water a day while tests continue, officials said.

On Saturday, the Amarillo Globe-News reported that the length of two football fields separates a well that supplies Amarillo and a monitoring well in which the Pantex nuclear weapons facility has found benzene at levels more than twice those established as safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA classifies benzene as a carcinogen, with the potential to cause leukemia and cancers, according to the agency's Integrated Risk Information System.

The monitoring well containing the benzene, and lower levels of the solvent toluene, is one of five new wells meant to determine whether chemicals used at Pantex have moved through the Ogallala Aquifer, which runs under the plant site and private property.

A sample taken in early July from the monitoring well contained 11 parts per billion of benzene. The EPA's regulatory standard is 5 parts per billion. Other monitoring wells contained lesser amounts, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The solvents vaporize easily and could get into water as vapors, DOE officials said in a news release.

Officials at BWXT, the company that manages Pantex, said cleanup measures will begin in September.

The firm will seek to determine extent of the contamination and how to deal with the problem, according to the news release.

On Thursday, the DOE notified officials of Amarillo and the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission of the problem.

This article is: http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/story.hts/metropolitan/992683

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), August 05, 2001

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