TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Drinking water safe at embattled lab, DEP says

By Timothy Puko
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

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

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. More companies embrace exchanges to curb health care costs
  2. Apple reaps some benefit from Microsoft deal with NFL
  3. Hospitals turning to technology to tear down language barriers with patients
  4. Families, friends become lenders of last resort for homebuyers
  5. Getting into executive pipeline may require schmoozing
  6. Komando: It’s possible to keep your info safe online
  7. Retailers begin efforts early to woo holiday shoppers
  8. Investors urged to handle Indian stock fund with care
  9. Chemical used for freshness leaves EU with little appetite for U.S. apples
  10. Astronauts on space station to get 3-D printer
  11. MarksJarvis: Benefits, not just pay, hit the skids
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.