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5 wells in Hastings have unsafe levels of PFAS under new EPA regulation

5 water systems in Hastings have unsafe PFAS levels
5 water systems in Hastings have unsafe PFAS levels 02:03

HASTINGS, Minn. —The City of Hastings issued a notice on Wednesday morning informing its residents that some of its municipal wells are now above the allowable drinking standards for PFAS.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued a national regulation limiting the amount of PFAS found in drinking water for the first time Wednesday morning. There is no safe level of exposure to PFAS without risk of health impacts, the EPA says, and the new requirement mandates that public water utilities test for six different types of the "forever chemical."

PFAS is a family of more than 5,000 harmful chemicals found in everything from cosmetics to cookware. Research confirms that exposure to PFAS can cause a range of health issues including reproductive problems, developmental delays, and certain types of cancer.

MORE: PFAS in Minnesota: How "forever chemicals" changed the state of water

Hastings was informed by the MDH that, because of the EPA's new standard, five of its six municipal wells are now above the allowable drinking water standard for PFAS. The regulation triggered a requirement for Hastings to implement treatment to remove PFAS from drinking water supply and meet the new limits.

The city says that Hastings residents do not need an alternative source of water, nor do they need to boil their water. 

Hastings is currently working with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to identify potential source locations of the chemical that are contributing to groundwater contamination. 

"The water contamination, the water levels haven't changed in Hastings. It doesn't mean we've had a new surgence of a chemical in our water," said Ryan Stempski, Hastings Public Works Director

Stempski said they've been monitoring PFAs levels for nearly two decades. And some progress to clean it up with three new treatment plants is already underway.

"We're committed to being shovel ready by this summer. We're moving at lightning speed to be in that position, so know that your city staff is on the issue," he added.

The estimated cost of the project — nearly $70 million dollars. Which means the hunt for funding is on.

"It would double our residents' water bills in 2 years. Triple it in 4 years. Just really an unrealistic burden for them. Based on that, we're trying to look for grants and federal assisstance," said Hastings City Administrator Dan Wietecha.

City officials say a community meeting with experts will be held within the next 30 days to answer additional questions.

On Wednesday, the Biden Administration announced that $1 billion of funding will go towards removing the "forever chemicals," of which Minnesota will receive nearly $15 million.

The EPA estimates that 66,000 public water utility systems are impacted by their new standard, and added that the regulations will reduce PFAS exposure for 100 million people.

There have been several major settlements in recent years by chemical companies over PFAS contamination, a notable one being a $10.3 billion settlement reached by 3M in June 2023.

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