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Water Flushing, Testing Continues in 10th Ward

‘Do not use’ order changed to ‘do not drink’; about 20 homes affected

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
July 28, 2021
Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

A “do not use” order has been lifted in 10th Ward, but some homes and businesses — in the area shown in red — remain under a “do not drink” order. (Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County map)

An order preventing residents of the 10th Ward from using their tap water for anything except flushing toilets has now been lifted, a water authority spokesman said.

However, about 20 homes and businesses along Romine Avenue, Rebecca Street and West Fifth Avenue have been told they should not drink or cook with the water, said Matthew Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

A “do not use” order for residents of lower 10th Ward was issued July 17 after emergency personnel reported that firefighting chemicals may have been sucked into an open fire hydrant as crews battled a multiple-alarm blaze at McKeesport Auto Body on Rebecca Street.

On July 23, the advisory was lifted for most of 10th Ward, except for about 30 homes and businesses.

A fourth round of water testing has detected the presence of some contamination in the remaining part of the water system, Junker said.

The chemicals, known as PFAS, have been linked to low birth weights, nervous system and thyroid disorders, and cancers. Levels measured in the most recent tests ranged from “non-detectible to 57.5 parts per trillion,” Junker said.

Federal standards set a lifetime exposure limit to PFAS in drinking water of 70 parts per trillion, he said.

The new advisory means that homes in the affected area may resume using their tap water to wash clothes, bathe, shower and water lawns, Junker said. They should continue not to use tap water to wash dishes, cook food or make ice, he said.

In addition, Junker said, parents and guardians should watch small children carefully when they bathe to make sure they avoid swallowing water.

The water authority will be delivering bottled water to the remaining affected homes on Thursday (July 29) and will be doing a fifth round of testing and flushing of water lines, Junker said.

“We would like to thank residents for their patience as we work to safely resolve this situation as quickly as possible,” he said. “While we sample and then await the fifth round of results, MAWC is working with state regulators to determine next steps.”

Originally published July 28, 2021.

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