It began with complaints about water that smelled like paint thinner and gasoline. Now, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is taking steps to correct a well water contamination problem in Andover.
The affected area is the Easter Addition, near E. 21st Street and N. Prairie Creek Rd.
Six homes in that neighborhood have been found to be contaminated by benzene or other petroleum related chemicals, state health officials said.
A total of 31 homes have been tested since the initial complaint January 5th. There are still a handful left to test and some test results that are still pending, an official said.
"They found out that we have high levels, way high levels of benzene and toluene and methyl ethyl ketone," said resident Eric Hauck.
Hauck said his well water had the highest concentrations of the dangerous chemicals, some of which have been linked to birth defects and other health problems.
The source of the contamination is still under investigation. NuStar Energy runs a petroleum pipeline through the neighborhood. A spokesperson sent Eyewitness News the following statement:
"It’s important to note that we do not believe our pipeline is the source of the problem. We just ran the most advanced scientific test available on the samples that we took from residents’ wells, and this test, which identifies the “fingerprint” of a compound, showed that it did not come from our pipeline. We just received these test results today, so we are still evaluating them so that we can better identify what the compound is and where it could have come from."
A KDHE spokesman said NuStar's pipeline did have a leak in the 1990s.
Officials have installed carbon filters in Hacuk's home and eight others to keep the tap water clean. The majority of homes tested showed no contamination "at concentrations above drinking water standards."
A community meeting is scheduled for Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. It will be held at the Andover Public Library.