Henrico prepares to test private wells due to concerns about PFAS chemicals

About 120 properties in White Oak area are eligible for testing at no cost

Varina Supervisor Tyrone Nelson to host community meeting Thursday

Henrico is offering to test private wells near White Oak Swamp Creek, in the county’s eastern area, based on public health concerns about elevated concentrations of potentially harmful chemicals known as PFAS.

The Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has identified an initial group of approximately 120 properties as eligible and will begin collecting samples Friday, Dec. 3 and continuing next week. The testing is being offered at no cost to the property owners and/or residents. To sign up, contact DPU at [email protected] or (804) 501-7540.

Henrico’s testing follows an Oct. 28 notice from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) that elevated levels of PFAS were found in water samples from the Chickahominy River Basin. The samples showed PFAS levels exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) preliminary health advisory level of 70 parts per trillion. They were collected as part of an ongoing study by Newport News Waterworks, which uses the Chickahominy River as a source for public drinking water.

Henrico proceeded with its plan to test wells in the impacted area after confirming the elevated PFAS levels in tests conducted in November.

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are long-lasting chemicals used in a variety of products, including in carpet, fabric and food packaging as well as in firefighting and industrial products to resist water, grease and stains. Long-term exposure to elevated levels of PFAS may be associated with health concerns, according to the EPA.

However, based on guidance from the VDH and DEQ, Henrico advises that well water in the target area remains safe for normal use.

“At this time, all of the elevated levels of PFAS have come from surface water, not groundwater,” DPU Director Bentley P. Chan said. “We want to be certain that there are no groundwater impacts. That’s why we are being proactive and taking the necessary steps to test individual wells.”

On Nov. 16, VDH, DEQ and DPU hosted a webinar on the PFAS issue for residents, property owners and other members of the public. On Thursday, Dec. 2, Varina District Supervisor Tyrone E. Nelson will hold a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. at Seven Pines Elementary School, 301 Beulah Road. The Varina Community Conversations meeting, also available remotely via WebEx, will include representatives of the VDH, DEQ and other agencies.

For property owners or residents who consent to well testing, a water sample will be taken from an outdoor spigot by DPU for analysis by a contract laboratory. Results are expected in about two weeks. Henrico has created a webpage with resources and information and is developing plans for how it will respond to the results of individual tests.

“Henrico County is absolutely committed to protecting the health of our community and environment,” Chan said. “The testing of individual wells is a proactive, necessary step to determine whether any concerns are present. We strongly encourage residents and property owners in the target area to sign up and help us gather this important information.”

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