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Hundreds show up for EPA meeting in St. Charles to question wellfield contamination

"I'm just concerned about the residents that are here and how our water is going to be safe,” Kara Elms with St. Charles Clean Water Advocates said.

ST CHARLES, Mo. — Hundreds of people showed up to Blanchette Park in St. Charles for an EPA meeting to discuss contamination in the Elm Point Wellfield.

The city of St. Charles says it had to shut down four of its wells due to contamination.

The EPA made clear that there is new contamination that they are currently investigating around well six in St. Charles.

The EPA and the City of St. Charles both spoke at a public meeting reassuring residents their drinking water is safe despite contamination concerns.

“Your public drinking water has never shown any detections,” Clint Sperry with the EPA said.

St. Charles Mayor Dan Borgmeyer said that is because they shut down the wells before contaminated water could ever leave the wells, pointing to an Ameren substation and a superfund site.

“If there's any indication that there are any carcinogens, I don't care what the levels are, I'm shutting the well down,” Borgmeyer said.

But the most recent contamination is concerning residents. 5 On Your Side’s Laura Barczewski asked the EPA about it during the meeting.

“The new contamination we're seeing in well six, where is that coming from? Because we have a lot going on around us and I feel like a lot of people want to know where this newer contamination detection is coming from?”

Ben Washburn with the EPA responded, “That's why the investigation is important we want to identify where the contamination is coming from. So the responsible parties can pay for and conduct clean up.”

Borgmeyer said the private contractor they hired says differently.

When asked if the private sources indicated where the contamination was coming from, Borgmeyer responded, “Findett and Cadmus are out of business. That was a long time ago and they did some remediation but since then it's been Ameren. They talk about going out in the field and looking for some other source but there's no other source that uses vinyl chloride.”

Ameren Missouri said in a statement, “We appreciate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosting tonight's forum providing answers to the community's questions and sharing additional information. It is reassuring to know that the EPA says drinking water in the City of St. Charles and surrounding communities is safe. We also agree with the EPA that more testing and analysis is needed. As everyone heard tonight, the source of the chemical detected at City Well 6 is unknown. Ameren Missouri strongly supports additional EPA-directed testing in the area this year with the cooperation of all parties to determine the source. For many years, Ameren Missouri, the City of St. Charles, the EPA and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources have worked collaboratively on this issue. We intend to continue to do so.”

Residents said the meeting Thursday night was more frustrating than helpful.

“The whole thing is disappointing. It's like the EPA says there's a solution but everyone in the community is like ‘no you aren't doing enough.’ So I'm just concerned about the residents that are here and how our water is going to be safe,” Kara Elms with St. Charles Clean Water Advocates said.

The mayor says he wants to see another meeting; he asked for two initially.

The public comment period is still set to close on the extended date of Dec. 5.

To submit public comments on the issue you can email pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov or submit them by mail to Assistant Attorney General, U.S. DOJ - ENRD, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, DC 20044-7611.

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