Water officials in Greensboro concerned about likely carcinogen that spread downstream from local waterway

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Concerns about 1,4-Dioxane in Greensboro waters sparked an effort in 2014 to limit the contaminate that the EPA believes is a likely carcinogen.

“The goal is always zero, but technologically or treatment science best available practices limit you to how far you can get,” said Steven Drew, director of water resources.

A few years back, Greensboro officials discovered Shamrock Environmental Corporation was the place pumping out the most 1,4-Dioxane.

“They are the only significant source,” Drew said.

The Browns Summit company does wastewater treatment. They agreed to start new practices to lower the output.

“They were able to get it down from the hundreds part per billion down to like an average of 20, sometimes lower,” Drew said.

Until mid-August, when that count spiked to nearly 850 parts per billion. More than 40 times the previous sampling.

“Something happened in their process that got away from them and it just spiked up momentarily,” Drew said.

Shamrock treated and discharged 15,825 gallons from a customer who didn’t tell Shamrock the gallons contained 1,4-Dioxane, according to a media release from the corporation.

“That leaves our pipe, passes through our plant, leaves our pipe and then goes all the way downstream to Wilmington to the ocean, but there are drinking water intakes all along the way,” Drew said.

This has customers and utility managers downstream concerned

Greensboro wasn’t affected because “our drinking water supply is not drawn from downstream of anybody’s wastewater plant including our own,” Drew said.

The Department of Environmental Quality is now performing weekly samplings to prevent this from happening again.

“The challenge is though we detect these things before we really know what the long term health results are, but we publish the results and the public see it,” Drew said. “And they’re rightly concerned about the things we’ve found in the environment or the water.”

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