What’s Contaminating the Water in Midland County, near Interstate 20?

In a Midland County neighborhood just south of Interstate 20, residents have been warned not to drink from their tap water. This comes after routine tests showed contaminants there. In 1990, high levels of chlorinated solvents were identified in the groundwater near a facility operated by the company Baker Hughes. This week, the company has responded by passing out bottled drinking water to affected residents.

Tommy Flood and his wife Patty are here looking for bottled water and information. “We bathe in it. We wash our clothes in it and everything. But we don’t drink it.”

Dr. Kelly Stribner is a toxicologist brought in to assess damage to the area. “The preliminary results we’ve seen – and we’ve only gotten a few in so far – there were a couple of detections above the drinking water standards.”

She listed the three chlorinated solvents found in the test samples. “DCE is dichloroethene. It’s a break-down product of the other two: Tetrachloroethene and Trichloroethene. And those two, back in the ‘70s or so, they were commonly used as degreasers at industrial facilities.”

According to Lauren Silverman, a representative of Baker Hughes in the Permian Basin, “You know, the sources of all of those chemicals are unclear at this time. We are working closely with our industrial neighbors. Obviously, next steps are to get those processed and analyzed, so we can take the appropriate measures.

More than 50 residents have been taking advantage of the bottled water and ice supplied by Baker Hughes.

About Tom Michael

KRTS/KXWT News Director
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