Friday, March 15, 2013

Columbia schools closed as investigation of water-plant break-in continues - LancasterOnline

Updated Mar 15, 2013 12:11

Columbia Borough School District was closed Friday while the state continued testing the community water supply for possible contaminants.

A "Do Not Consume" order issued to about 8,700 customers after a break-in at a water plant overnight Wednesday remains in effect.

The school was closed as a precaution, said Jeff Helm, health officer and zoning and planning officer for the borough.

Helm said he advised school district Superintendent Barry Clippinger Thursday night that water fountains would be off limits and food workers would have to use bottled water if the schools stayed open.

"Hand washing at this point," Helm added, "it's all questionable."

Helm said Friday morning that the state Department of Environmental Protection was checking for a wide array of potential foreign substances.



  1. "Hand washing at this point," Helm added, "it's all questionable." - WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?

    While the notice from the water company stated that people can continue to shower/wash hands with the water, I personally think this is incredibly risky. The skin is like a sponge, many different types of chemicals can be absorbed directly through the skin. If the water company has no idea what is in our water how can they be sure that it is safe to shower/wash hands with it?? The answer is that THEY CAN'T!

    Additionally, making people fill up their own containers is not an acceptable solution. How many people have containers large enough for this? Thankfully my family is comfortable financially and we afford to go purchase many gallons of water. However, with a higher than average poverty level within the Borough I would venture to guess that many of residents cannot do this - and as a result I would imagine that many are continuing to use the public water supply.

    1. I wonder about the motive behind this "break-in." Why would someone go to all the trouble of sneaking onto the grounds, cutting the locks and accessing the water supply?
      And why in Columbia, especially while the water company is undergoing an expansion?

    2. And at what point does the DHS step in?
      Have they even been notified?

    3. The commenter at 12:37 PM is right: Chemicals can be absorbed through the skin. For example, topical ointments are applied to, and absorbed by, the skin. Also, chemicals can enter the body through skin cuts and scratches, so how can the authorities feel confident issuing a statement saying we're OK to bathe and shower with the water?

  2. WGAL is reporting that state DEP is the dept doing the testing...An infrastructure failure of this type is a reportable event to PEMA/DHS and I would bet they have been notified.

  3. this is a serious breach and SHOULD be reported to ALL agencies....and the fact that Dave Lewis stated they knew at 9 am BUT the water co did NOT notify any of the residents,users until 2:20 pm-now this is a serious time lapse of idiotsy.......i agree with the first commentor-yes chemicals CAN be absorbed thru the skin, so how do they know if its safe to shower in??? THEY DON'T ...makes me wonder-doesn't the water co have strict guidelines and security measures they have to follow in the wake of 9 11?? evidently, they have no such security in place.

  4. Hand washing is questinable????? Guessing the cola water co did NOT contact anyone with the Dept of Health. a state office. more and more wrongs.

  5. yes they sure did..and hopefully now they will have to answer for no security,,and failure to act for more than 5 hours AFTER the breach was discovered.

  6. i agree wholeheartedly....let's see how it plays out....