President Joe Biden declared an emergency in U.S. Virgin Islands earlier this week. Lead levels that were above 100 times the limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) were found when tests were conducted on the island of St. Croix, according to a popular outlet. These levels are among the worst seen in decades in the U.S.
According to a report in the Associated Press (AP) residents have been asked to stop using the water in their taps. They are receiving vouchers for bottled water.
The Associated Press said that the frightening results of the tests may be false. However, after the Flint, Michigan incident, officials avoided some of the pitfalls and told the residents of the Caribbean island of St. Croix about the results that showed elevated levels of lead and the governor declared a state of emergency.
In September, officials tested water at faucets, according to lead testing rules laid down by the EPA. The results showed that lead levels were normal.
Island residents said that the water was seen with further discoloration in the following months. Officials took samples, this time at the meter. They wanted to check if the problem was due to the utility pipes. Some of these tests had recorded the highly elevated levels of lead that were reported before President Biden declared the emergency.
According to AP, Andrew Smith, head of Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority said that all of them had been “shocked and surprised by the results.”
They conducted tests again and the results continued to be too high. However, they obtained low results at other locations that included two schools.
Local authorities have conducted detailed testing in order to get to the root cause. The authorities are expecting a final report by mid-December.
Many people in the island of St. Croix relies on rain water. They collect this water in cisterns and use it. Residents in the mainland, in cities, use water that is piped through lead pipes. The water system is old and they are planning major upgrades.
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