Kansas Didn't Tell Residents Their Water Was Contaminated For Years
The Kansas government allowed hundreds of residents in two Wichita-area neighborhoods to drink water contaminated by a cleaning chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as PCE or tetrachloroethylene, The Wichita Eagle reported Sunday.
The state discovered the tainted groundwater at a Haysville dry cleaner in 2011 but the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) did not act for more than six years. KDHE did not test nearby private wells or alert residents about the contamination.
Similar contamination was discovered at another dry cleaning site near Central and Tyler in Wichita, but the state did not notify residents for four years.
KDHE said they initially assumed the contaminated groundwater in Haysville was traveling southwest away from the private wells. They did not realize until 2017 that the groundwater was actually flowing southwest and directly along the wells.
The delay in notification can be blamed on a 1995 state law requested by the dry cleaning industry called the Kansas Drycleaner Environmental Response Act that actually instructs health authorities not to look for contamination from shops.
In 1994, Kansas Republicans took control of all state government. They passed the Kansas Drycleaner Environmental R… https://t.co/7TdV0q4NJg— altEPA (@altEPA)1535330832.0
One family's private well that was tested had water containing 49 parts per billion of PCE, about 10 times what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows.
"You think they would have notified everybody, taken some precautions until something was done," the resident told The Wichita Eagle. "Instead, they all kept quiet. They didn't let anybody know about the contamination, so we all continued to drink the water."
When consumed, dry cleaning chemicals can build up over time and can possibly affect a person's nervous system, liver, kidneys and reproductive system, according to The Wichita Eagle. Prolonged exposure can cause changes in mood, memory, attention, reaction time and vision. Some studies even found a link between PCE and a higher risk of bladder cancer.
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By Governor Jay Inslee
Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.