A long inactive U.S. Army ammunition plant may be to blame for the presence of a potentially cancer-causing chemical in New Brighton's drinking water.
According to an announcement on the city's website, the Minnesota Department of Health has identified "trace amounts" of 1, 4-dioxane in the local water supply.
The release says the chemical can be found in solvents that were used at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant (TCAAP), which has been a "superfund site" for decades, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Superfund sites are "uncontrolled hazardous waste sites" targeted for clean-up by the federal government.
New Brighton and the Army have had past issues over leftover contaminants – in 2014, the two reached a settlement under which the branch provides funding for the city's water treatment facilities, the city's release says.
Long-term exposure to dioxane can present a cancer threat, WCCO reports. The station adds that while no human cases have been reported, animal testing has indicated "possible risk."
However, according to the Fayetteville Observer in North Carolina, the chemical has been classified as "likely to cause cancer in humans."
Still, there are no federal guidelines or rules regulating dioxane, but New Brighton is taking the contamination "seriously."
The Minnesota Health Department, on the other hand, does have dioxane regulations in place – higher-than-recommended levels of the chemical were found in New Brighton's drinking wells, the city says.
The Army will fund cleanup efforts, according to the Star Tribune.
Until then, New Brighton's drinking water will be coming from wells in deeper aquifers "confirmed to be dioxane-free," and the city will keep it this way until the threat has been removed.
Residents are invited to attend an open house meeting on the matter on May 2.