Calgon Corp. to benefit from EPA water mandate
Calgon Carbon Corp. is anticipating plenty of business from the opening of a new North American market worth an estimated $750 million over the next decade.
The Robinson Township-based company's glee is based on rules issued Thursday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, mandating all public water systems nationwide that rely on surface water sources, to monitor and possibly treat their systems for cryptosporidium. One reason for the new rules is that the parasite is very resistant to traditional water treatments, including chlorine.
Calgon Carbon's ultraviolet light system for treating water fits the EPA's new guidelines for destroying the parasite, specifically by scrambling its DNA and thus not allowing it to multiply.
"We've been waiting for this (final rules) for a long time," said Calgon Carbon spokesman Gail Gerono.
The Environmental Protection Agency rules mandate that water systems, depending on customers served, begin two years of water monitoring for cryptosporidium between October 2006 and April 2010, and take appropriate action should high levels of the parasite be found. They must take action between April 2012 and October 2014.
"We anticipate the market for ultraviolet systems to be quite large over the next 10 years, $750 million and that doesn't include licensing agreements," said Jim Sullivan, head of Calgon Carbon's UV Division. Sullivan said Calgon Carbon's ultraviolet systems are priced from roughly $50,000, to millions of dollars. It plans on charging a 1.5-cent per 1,000 gallons of water treated licensing fee.
The Environmental Protection Agency projects the average cost per water customer for treating a water supply for cryptosporidium will range from $1.67 to $2.59 per year, or $92 million to $132 million annually for the water supplier.
"A number of new technologies, including ultraviolet light systems have been shown to be effective against cryptosporidium," said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator, Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency, during a Thursday teleconference.
Crypto -- as the parasite is known -- is microscopic, measuring just five microns, the size of a red blood cell, but causes big problems, extreme gastrointestinal distress. In infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems, infection can cause death.
Between 1984-1998, there were nine outbreaks of cryptosporidium infection, with the largest occurring in 1993 in Milwaukee, when 403,000 people were struck with abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting, and more than 50 died, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Calgon Carbon wouldn't disclose how many ultraviolet systems it has sold worldwide, but in Western Pennsylvania, at least three public water systems didn't wait for Environmental Protection Agency mandate to treat their water supply with ultraviolet light. Oakmont, Moon and West View water authorities are using Calgon Carbon equipment.
"We needed good filtration and the ultraviolet system gave us a double barrier," said Dennis Kreider, water quality analyst with the Oakmont Water Authority, which paid $250,000 roughly 18 months ago for its ultraviolet system
Oakmont's Hulton Purification Plant, equipped with a Calgon Carbon system treats between five million and 5.8 million gallons of Allegheny River water daily. Oakmont serves roughly 40,000 people in all or parts of eight municipalities , including Harmar, Verona, Oakmont, Indianola, Plum, Penn Hills, Middlesex and West Deer.
In addition to issuing final rules concerning cryptosporidium, the Environmental Protection Agency also published final rules requiring water systems to limit the amount of potentially harmful disinfection by-products in drinking water.
Again, Calgon Carbon sees the rule as positive, for sales of its carbon purification products.