McKEESPORT, Pa. — A Do Not Use water advisory has been in place for part of McKeesport.
10 days later, there are still people in being told not to drink the water. It’s all due to foam from firefighters getting into the system.
The advisory was issued July 17, a day after a fire.
About 500 Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County customers in the Lower 10th Ward, including streets between West Fifth Avenue and the Monongahela River, are impacted by the advisory. They have been told to use bottled water or alternative sources of water for drinking, bathing, hand washing, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, cooking and food preparation until further notice.
Showers are available at McKeesport Area High School, 1960 Eden Park Boulevard, between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Starting Thursday, buses will be available to take people to the high school, McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said. Busing will take place between 9 a.m. and noon, as well as between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
“The bus will pick up any Tenth Ward resident by utilizing an Atlantic Avenue route. Anyone who would like to utilize this service, please stand anywhere along Atlantic Avenue at exactly 9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5, p.m., and 6 p.m. Any children must be accompanied by an adult,” Cherepko said on Facebook.
Cherepko also said water buffaloes are available at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Perry Street, as well as at Pennsylvania American Water’s Atlantic Avenue treatment plant. Bottled water is available at the intersection of Atlantic Avenue and Ann Street, as well as the 500 block of Atlantic Avenue.
“Call 412-675-5021 to arrange delivery of water to the disabled and shut-ins,” the municipal authority’s website said.
McKeesport officials emphasized that if someone shows up at your door claiming to be with the authority, make sure to ask for identification.
The municipal authority said home and business owners need to flush all their water lines. Water from all faucets, spigots, toilets and appliances should be run for at least two minutes to help ensure potential contaminates are removed.
Officials said firefighting foam contains perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), which are synthetic chemicals, and glycol. PFAS and glycol in drinking water may be a serious health concern, and officials said those chemicals can’t be removed from water by boiling it, freezing it or letting it stand.
“We are changing out the water in the Lower 10th Ward as a precaution. Our information and expertise indicate that flushing will remove firefighting foam constituents, if present. There’s no reason to wait for test results to flush,” resident manager Michael Kukura said.
Water testing is ongoing, with samples being driven to Lancaster every day. So far, no contaminants have been detected. The Department of Environmental Protection is overseeing testing and will have the final say to give the all clear.
The firefighting foam might have made its way into a fire hydrant during efforts to put out a fire at McKeesport Auto Body on Rebecca Avenue.
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