Drinking water safe at embattled lab, DEP says
There was no public health threat connected to a lab where the Department of Environmental Protection found problems with tests that were done on drinking water for several Pennsylvania communities, state officials said on Friday.
The DEP fined Ross-based Microbac Laboratories Inc. $60,000 and revoked its accreditation for violations involving tests on drinking water, non-drinking water, soils and chemicals. The lab was testing drinking water for carcinogens and other pollutants.
DEP officials said the agency reviewed 260 drinking water samples after finding quality control problems at the lab. Only three of them could have raised health concerns but duplicate tests from other labs determined the water was safe, officials said.
“It didn't take much more than a day or two to figure out we wouldn't have to pull the trigger on” further testing and other precautions to ensure people were drinking safe water, said Lisa Daniels, director of the state's Bureau of Safe Drinking Water.
Questions arose about the lab because it submitted faulty data as part of an accreditation request to DEP last year, department officials said. That led to an unannounced inspection and two-month investigation in the spring that found 50 violations at the lab.
The DEP has blamed the company for poor protocol, unverified testing and undertrained managers, but the company said the general issue was poor documentation.
“The tests were performed in a fashion to provide quality data, however, the documentation of the process in some cases did not fully meet the DEP requirements,” said Robert S. Crookston, senior vice president at Microbac.
The drinking water samples came from all over the state, including a few water authorities in Western Pennsylvania, state online records show. The Baltimore lab did most of those tests only to determine how well the plants' filtration systems were functioning, state and company officials said.
The questionable tests included two in 2012 looking for trihalomethanes — carcinogens — in drinking water from the Midland Borough Municipal Authority and Nova Chemicals Beaver Valley plant, according to the state's online database. State officials said there was a third questionable test for another group of carcinogens, volatile organic compounds, from another plant in 2012, but it could not be identified in the state's online database.
Timothy Puko is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
- Apple reaps some benefit from Microsoft deal with NFL
- Hospitals turning to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
- Families, friends become lenders of last resort for homebuyers
- Getting into executive pipeline may require schmoozing
- Komando: It’s possible to keep your info safe online
- Retailers begin efforts early to woo holiday shoppers
- Investors urged to handle Indian stock fund with care
- Chemical used for freshness leaves EU with little appetite for U.S. apples
- Astronauts on space station to get 3-D printer
- MarksJarvis: Benefits, not just pay, hit the skids