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Blades groundwater contamination could be added to federal Superfund list

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media
The carbon filtration system in the Town of Blades

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the Blades Groundwater Site to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL).


Industrial chemicals the EPA says can adversely affect human health have been found in groundwater used for drinking water in and around the Town of Blades.


The NPL guides the EPA in determining which contaminated sites warrant further investigation. 

The EPA considers the “primary groundwater contaminants of concern” in the Blades area to be metals associated with electroplating compounds. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were also found in the Town’s three municipal wells last year, as well as eight private drinking water wells near the town, according to the EPA. 

State environmental and health agencies began treating the water with carbon filtration last year.

DNREC officials said in a press release Friday that if the Blades groundwater site is added to the National Priority List, remediation there could be financed under the federal Superfund program. DNREC requested the EPA’s assistance with the site because of the “complex nature of the hazardous chemicals and the extent of the contamination,” according to the release.

Town of Blades Mayor John Reiss says he is happy with DNREC’s efforts. “Everybody’s happy so far that it’s been corrected, and they’re still investigating, and they’ve been keeping the town informed of what’s going on,” he said. “I couldn’t ask any more for DNREC for them helping us out.”

Reiss says he looks forward to more answers about the source of the contamination.  “Next priority is just to see I guess what they come up with for, if they could find the source of it,” he said. “I don’t think that’s been discovered yet— or it hasn’t been released yet.”

EPA Press Officer David Sternberg said in an email that if finalized, the NPL listing will allow the EPA “to use Superfund authority and resources to work with DNREC to identify the sources of contamination and help resolve the groundwater concerns in the Blades area.”

DNREC says tests last month showed municipal water in Blades continues to meet drinking water standards.  

Some studies have shown certain PFAS chemicals may increase the risk of cancer and other health problems.

PFAS have also been found in drinking water in New Castle and Dover


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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