A draft of a new state Department of Health report recommends finding what is contaminating wells in Franklinville and the nearby hamlet of Cadiz.
The contaminants are trichloroethene and other volatile organic chemicals. The chemicals can harm the liver, kidneys and nervous system, and have a a lesser potential for causing cancer.
The new study suggests that residents of households not hooked up to the municipal supply may face a health risk.
The Department of Health also offers to place the names of residents exposed the the chemicals on a U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry for follow-up study.
One suspected source is an industrial area in the Village of Franklinville. The report says Cadiz residents have been exposed to the contaminants since 1989 or earlier.
The area in the hamlet showing the highest levels is "bordered by the south side of Route 98, between Cadiz Road and Ischua Creek, north to Ischua Creek and west of Cadiz Road," according to the report.
Residents have been advised to seek alternate sources of drinking water and to avoid taking showers with well water. The state estimates 562 people live within one mile of the Cadiz aquifer in question.
However, only one Cadiz homeowner has installed a carbon-filtration system and one other purchases bottled drinking water, according to the report.
Cadiz was named by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 1995 as one of two contaminated aquifers in Cattaraugus County and the DEC's Region 9.
The source of contamination of the second aquifer, now the subject of a Superfund cleanup between Little Valley and Salamanca, also has not been located.
According to the DEC, there are 17 other contaminated aquifers statewide. The report was received about three weeks ago by town and village officials, who were asked to submit questions and comments to the agency by April 24.
After that date a public health action plan, a series of measures to mitigate and prevent adverse public health effects, will be put in motion and the public health significance of exposure to the chemicals will be determined.
David Dickinson, who has been Franklinville's town supervisor in 1996, said he had never heard of the problem before reading the report and has seen no related information in the town's files. He added that he recently discussed the report with several Cadiz residents whose wells have never been tested.
He said he is in favor of more extensive ground-water testing but has not yet responded to Department of Health recommendations because he wants to talk it over with other Town Board members when they meet April 14.
Volatile organic chemicals were discovered in the village's wells in 1984 and the source of the contamination has never been identified, even after excessive levels were found in soil and well samples between 1989 and 1995. As a result, the village was forced to shut down one of its municipal wells and, in 1993, an aeration treatment system was installed to cleanse the water.