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EPA EXTENDS FALLON DEADLINE TO REMOVE ARSENIC FROM TAP WATER

Release Date: 8/28/2002
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4307

     FALLON NOW HAS SIX MORE MONTHS TO BUILD TREATMENT PLANT
                               
     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today issued an amended order to the City of Fallon, Nev. giving the municipality six additional months to begin constructing a treatment plant for removing arsenic from its drinking water to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

     Today's amended order extends the deadline the city has to complete constructing a  treatment facility from May 31, 2003 to Dec. 31, 2003.  The extension allows the city more time to build a larger facility that will also serve the U.S. Navy and complete a system that will reduce arsenic to the 10 parts per billion standard set in October 2001.
 
     "Fallon has made significant progress," said Alexis Strauss, water director for the Pacific Southwest.  "Giving the city six additional months will help bring safe drinking water to residents in the city of Fallon and of the naval air station."

      The EPA had been working with Fallon officials to reduce the arsenic in its drinking water down to the current federal standard of 50 ppb which remains in effect until the new standard takes over in Jan. 2006.  The city has agreed to build a plant that will remove arsenic from pumped groundwater to the new 10 ppb standard and have volunteered to meet that standard two years earlier than the national requirement to reduce arsenic levels from 50 ppb to 10 ppb.  

     Fallon city officials have also agreed to increase the frequency of public notifications to customers from quarterly to monthly.  The public notice warns customers of the dangers of arsenic ingestion and advises the use of bottled water for drinking and cooking until the treatment plant goes on line.  Arsenic in Fallon's drinking water is 100 ppb, among the highest of any large public water system in the nation.

        Although a naturally occurring mineral, arsenic is a poison and a carcinogen.  It is naturally found in groundwater throughout the region.  Drinking high levels of arsenic increases the chance of lung, bladder, and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage.  Arsenic inhibits the body's ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.

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