A class action lawsuit has been filed against the town of Denmark, SC. Three plaintiffs have alleged that the town has been adding an unapproved chemical, HaloSan, to the public drinking water, and has been doing so for at least ten years to make it look cleaner and healthier. The plaintiffs are asking for a jury trial seeking an unspecified amount in damages. They are also asking other members of the community to join the lawsuit.
While the state of South Carolina has approved the chemical as a disinfectant, the United States Environmental Protection agency has not. HaloSan is more commonly used in swimming pools and spas to clean the water. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim that the town knew of a study by the EPA in 2007 which found that HaloSan could cause serious skin irritations and allergic reactions. The EPA still needs to conduct further testing before approving it as a safe water sanitizer and fit for human consumption.
According to federal regulations, a disinfectant is considered a pesticide. The EPA’s pesticide program must review all pesticide products. HaloSan is not recognized by the EPA and, by law, cannot be used as a disinfectant until research has proven that it is safe to use. Until then, it is a violation of federal law to use HaloSan for the purpose of sanitizing drinking water.
The town of 3,000 people has been adding HoloSan to its four wells to combat a problem with iron bacteria that leaves rust-like particles in the water causing it to stain. Since there are no established standards for how much HaloSan should be added to the wells, the lawsuit alleges that Denmark officials aren’t able to regulate the exact dosage of the chemical being added to the water supply. The wells are the town’s only source of potable water.
South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, who approved the chemical for the use of sanitizing water, claims that the advertising for HaloSan led them to believe it was safe to sanitize water. The state approved the Berry Systems HaloSan Treatment based on its claim to effectively treat water with excess iron bacteria. The town claims the water is safe to drink.
Members of the community started to become suspicious of the water quality because of the smell and color. Several people have claimed that the water has made them sick. Some Denmark citizens have even stopped using the town’s drinking water supply and are starting to collect the water in jars to have it tested.
Denmark has been battling with the quality of their water for years. Its population has been declining causing water rates to increase for the remaining residents. With less incoming revenue, the town wasn’t able to maintain the integrity of all of the underground pipes adding even more rust issues to the already poor water supply.
This isn’t the first time Denmark has been challenged about the quality of their water supply. Residents who have lived in the town for years say that they have always been concerned about the water. While high levels of lead have been previously discovered in the water, the levels weren’t high enough to alarm the EPA. Some residents are even suspecting a link between the unsafe drinking water to different kidney disorders and skin infections that seem to plague their community. Many Denmark citizens will drive several miles to bring safe water home from neighboring towns.
Learn more about Hazardous Chemical Lawsuits.