When something as important as the safety of the drinking water comes into question, we believe erring on the side of caution is the best approach.
And that’s exactly what Moorestown officials are doing, but because of a lack of action on the part of the Christie administration, they’re in a tough spot.
In 2013, traces of trichloropropane, a man-made chemical used as an industrial solvent and degreaser, were found in water samples taken from two municipal wells in Moorestown.
The wells were shut down in 2014.
The township has since relied on water from its remaining wells and purchases from New Jersey American Water.
The culprit, trichloropropane, or 1,2,3-TCP, as it’s often called, is unregulated, but classified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
Once used in the production of pesticides for agricultural use and as a paint or varnish remover, TCP doesn’t contaminate soil, but seeps into the groundwater.
It can be successfully removed from drinking water, and Moorestown officials have said they’ve looked into the specifics of doing that, but they may have a long wait to learn the safety standard required.
It turns out that environmentalists have been trying to get the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to adopt a water safety standard for TCP for six years, since the state Drinking Water Quality Institute recommended it.
In California, TCP has already been classified as a human carcinogen, and standards have been set. Hawaii limits it in its drinking water. The New Jersey DEP is waiting for … what, exactly?
Local lawmakers have moved to help out with legislation that creates a state standard for the chemical. Assemblymen Herb Conaway, D-7th of Delanco, and Troy Singleton, D-7th of Palmyra, introduced legislation that would require the state to establish a specific maximum contaminant level for TCP based on research, evaluations and recommendations by the Drinking Water Quality Institute.
It shouldn’t take years or be this difficult for standards to be established, and for Moorestown officials to get the information they need to move forward on the status of those wells.
TCP isn’t just Moorestown’s concern. If the contaminant was found in Moorestown, it probably can be found in water supplies in other parts of the state as well.
We applaud Conaway and Singleton for taking action to establish a statewide safety limit for TCP and urge the Christie administration to act on the 6-year-old recommendations.