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Well Tests Offered by Twp. After Farmer's Fertilizer Spill

'Inexpensive' exam will uncover nitrates in drinking water, township says.

The Washington Township Health Department is offering residents an inexpensive well test for homeowners who may have been, or feel they could have been affected by a chemical spill in Long Valley recently.

On March 18, a farmer on West Mill Road encountered a malfunctioning valve on a tanker, which resulted in the spill of 4,5000 gallons of nitrogen fertilizer. The liquid, known as Uran – comprised of ammonia, nitrate, urea and water – made its way into the South Branch of the Raritan River.

Tests done that day showed no ill effects to the river or surrounding wildlife, but the township released a statement saying, in part, “The chemical released was ammonium nitrate.  Nitrates are considered a pollutant.  Ingestion of large amounts may cause gastrointestinal irritation and can be concerning for pregnant women and those who have infants at home.”

The township said residents in the area with a surface well or spring well and live near the South Branch of the Raritan River may have their drinking water impacted. Because of this, an “inexpensive well test for nitrates” is being offered by the health department.

No complaints or summonses were lodged against the farmer after the incident.

For more information about a well test, call the Washington Township Health Department at 908-876-3650, or go here.

Not Domino March 28, 2014 at 03:03 PM
It is extremely difficult to know exactly which way water flows within underground aquifers. Indeed, hydraulic pressure causes it to flow uphill, which is why there are springs on top of mountains. That said, since I have a well, I would like to see a map showing the area of possible impact in order to know if I need my water tested. I am a mile away and we have one infant at home and one more 'in the oven', thus potentially putting us at risk, even though we live at a higher elevation than the spill. Is there a map showing the possible contamination zone for homes with private wells?
LV Outdoorsman007 March 28, 2014 at 04:07 PM
One error I noticed, the amount of fertilizer spilled should be 45,000 not 4,5000.
Not Domino March 28, 2014 at 05:54 PM
An update: You can contact the town and have your well tested for a nominal fee of $23.00. You must pick up the test kit on Monday if you wish to deliver the sample to them on Tuesday morning between 8 and 9 AM. The samples will be sent out to the testing lab on Tuesday at 9:00 AM. I don't know when the next batch will be sent if you miss that deadline, but I presume it's every Tuesday morning. Call the town to confirm.
Tracy Tobin March 28, 2014 at 08:55 PM
LV Outdoorsman007 You are correct, there is a typo in the article. However, the spill was 4,500 gallons not 45,000 gallons.
Joanne March 28, 2014 at 09:09 PM
how do you know when it will travel to your well? although this weekends rain, if it comes, should help dilute, but I still say you shouldn't have to pay even a nominal fee. the company who owns the chemical should foot the bill and all incurring costs on another note, its nice to see that the farmer reported it, I am sure there are others who don't "man up"

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