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Seminole County officials discuss concerns about compound in water


SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. — The Seminole County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday afternoon to discuss concerns about a compound in the water for an old industrial site in Lake Mary.

There are three utilities involved: Seminole County, Lake Mary and Sanford. Despite a potential link between the chemical and cancer, each utility says the water we drink is safe, while Seminole County is committed to more testing and oversight.

“Based on our sampling data and the information we have and the regulatory advisory levels, our water is very safe,” environmental service director Kim Ornberg said.

The chemical 1,4-Dioxane is now a major topic of conversation, prompted by a series of special reports in the Orlando Sentinel of the presence of the chemical found in water wells in NW Seminole County starting a decade ago.

County leaders stress its levels never exceeded an action of .35 parts per billion.

“It was in 2016 that we last saw a level that was at the level, not above the level for a reporting requirement,” county commissioner Andria Herr said.

Over the years, there has been plenty of testing at the old industrial site west of Rinehart and north of Lake Mary Boulevard, where telecommunications parts were manufactured from the late 1960s until the early 2000s.

All utilities went to work after 1,4-Dioxane was detected.

One commissioner suggested an effort to determine the exact source to help cover future costs.

“What are we going to do to offset those costs with additional consultants, testing, whatever we're going to do that's going to be borne by the ratepayers who we're concerned about, because of somebody else's negligence,” Jay Zembower said.

And while utilities made moves, people using private wells are not happy to just be learning of 1,4-Dioxane.

“I would like to understand, after all these years, the county never notified private well owners of the water testing results,” Emily Turner said.

Several residents expressed concerns about when they found out the compound and when the county knew.

"When people talk about transparency, I'm not naming names, but a couple of y'all was already elected officials when this came up," H. Alexander Duncan said during public comment. He lives in Geneva and grew up in Seminole County. "What also worries me is what's been our current governmental reaction to it. I think there could have been a little more honesty. There could have been a better level of transparency and openness. I just think a lot of citizens need more accessible information on the topic right now."

For attorney Mark NeJame, he came to the meeting after people reached out concerned about the health impacts.

"Several families have reached out to us who either got cancer or lost members or finding themselves with physical issues that they want to address," NeJame said. "They believe it stems from the water."

He has partnered with another attorney whose firm represented people years back concerning water contamination from the Lake Mary plant where the compound is believed to have come from.

"We'll be representing the various families to get to the bottom of this," NeJame said. "Find out what happened, why it happened, and has there been a coverup."

© 2023, Hearst Television Inc. on behalf of WESH-TV

Source: WESH 2 News

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