Wednesday, January 19, 2022

3M contamination knocks out another well in Woodbury

Woodbury lost another municipal well due to polluting chemicals manufactured by 3M Co.

On Thursday, city officials announced that four of the city’s 16 active wells are now closed due to traces of perfluorocarbons or perfluorochemicals found in the water. In addition, three more contaminated wells decommissioned in 2019 remained closed.
According to the announcement, the closure will not affect the quality or safety of the water.

Drinking water in Woodbury is still safe to drink, city officials say.

Moving underground pollution was a particular headache for Woodbury, which was forced to respond by opening and closing wells.

In 2019, Woodbury closed six of the city’s 19 wells when the contamination was found to exceed federal safety standards. In January 2020, Woodbury declared a water shortage emergency, fearing the city would not be able to pump enough water during peak demand during the summer months.

In February, contamination of another well, the seventh well, was discovered and it was immediately closed.

But the city was able to build a $7 million filtration plant to bring pollution down to safe limits. This station allowed the city to reopen four wells while keeping three closed, and avoid summer water rationing.

The closure on Thursday of another well resulted in a total of four wells being closed. It is not known how the closure of this well will affect the city’s ability to supply water during the peak summer months.

3M has been making chemicals since the 1940s for use in household items, including non-stick cookware and stain removers. He legally dumped chemicals at sites in Woodbury, Oakdale, Lake Elmo and Cottage Grove well into the 1970s.

In 2004, traces of chemicals were found in the drinking water of these cities and nearby communities. The chemicals have never been proven to have any effect on human health, but in high doses they cause cancer, thyroid problems and birth defects in laboratory animals.

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