Labs testing for contaminated wells low on bottles as hundreds seek water tests

Wake County residents anxious to get their private well tested for contaminants may have to wait a little longer.

The three laboratories included in a Wake County mailer to residents are experiencing delays in sending out kits to test the water.

The delay is due to an influx of customers and, in at least one case, the Fourth of July holiday.

On Monday, Wake County began notifying 19,000 private well owners in the eastern half of the county that their wells may be contaminated with unsafe levels of uranium, radon and radium. The county estimates one in five wells, or between 4,000 and 6,000, may exceed safe drinking-water standards for the chemicals. Long-term exposure may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

Residents can check if they’re in the affected area by going to wakegov.com/wells or by calling 919-893-WELL (9355).

In that mailer, the county listed three companies certified by the N.C. Division of Public Health to handle the testing of radiological chemicals. Radiological means relating to radiology and nuclear radiation. Other certified labs can be found at bit.ly/nc-labs.

Florida Radiochemistry Services and National Testing Laboratories both said they’ve each received more than 100 orders for various water testing kits. The two companies send plastic bottles for residents to fill up and mail back to have their water tested.

Representatives for both companies said they are able to accept new orders but there might be a slight delay in customers getting the getting the kits. They’ve run out of some of the bottles needed to mail kits.

Pace Analytical, which has an office in Raleigh, said it is also running out of kits and is unable to accept new water samples until July 8 because of the Fourth of July holiday, according to Wake County. Radon has to be analyzed within three days of receiving the sample, said Felicia Grogan, general manager for Pace’s North Carolina labs.

Pace has received about 200 calls per day and given out about 200 kits, according to numbers supplied to the county. It has received 63 water samples so far.

Also on Thursday, Johnston County told residents that some private wells in the western and northern part of the county may also be contaminated. A letter urged residents in those areas to get their private wells tested. The News & Observer reported Tuesday that the granite that caused the contamination was also in Johnston, Wake, Franklin, Vance and Warren counties.

Anna Johnson covers Raleigh and Wake County for the News & Observer. She has previously covered city government, crime and business for newspapers across North Carolina and received many North Carolina Press Association awards, including first place for investigative reporting. She is a 2012 alumna of Elon University.
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