Thursday, August 18, 2022

CFPUA says mechanical failure caused dangerous fluoride levels, ‘recommending’ $5 credit for affected residents

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is recommending to its board that a $5 credit be issued to the thousands of residences affected by high fluoride levels. The spike in fluoride levels was caused by a mechanical malfunction. (Port City Daily photo | Benjamin Schachtman)
The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is recommending to its board that a $5 credit be issued to the thousands of residences affected by high fluoride levels. The spike in fluoride levels was caused by a mechanical malfunction. (Port City Daily photo/ Benjamin Schachtman)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — After 30,000 residents were told not to drink their water earlier this week, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has isolated the cause of high fluoride levels and is hoping to offer some compensation.

According to a release from CFPUA, “there was a mechanical failure at the Michael E. Richardson Nanofiltration plant that caused high fluoride levels.”

Related: State says fluoride double federal limit in water. CFPUA can’t explain why

CFPUA stated that, during normal operation, fluoride levels are tested every four hours at the Richardson plant. According to CFPUA, the plant was not active when the malfunction occurred. The authority reiterated that as soon as high fluoride levels were detected, the plant was shut down and no further fluorinated water was pumped to residents.

According to CFPUA, the fluorination system will remain off while the authority completes a review of the mechanical failure.

“It is crucial that CFPUA fully understands the cause of the mechanical failure in order to identify and implement corrective measures to ensure this does not happen again. At this time, we expect to have a more thorough review of this incident by next week. We are dedicated to keeping the community informed,” CFPUA stated in a release.

CFPUA also said it would recommend issuing a $5 credit to the 30,000 affected residents; that is the equivalent of about 500 gallons of water. According to the release, CFPUA staff will make this recommendation to the Board at its May 9 meeting.

CFPUA has since rescinded all “do not drink” and boil advisories. While boiling does not remove fluoride, flushing the pipes of excess fluoride did create the opportunity for bacteria to enter the water. CFPUA stated the water is now completely safe to drink and cook with again.

CFPUA asked residents to sign up for its “Notify Me” program at its website.

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