South Carolina regulators had questions seven years ago about a chemical used in a small Bamberg County town’s drinking water, but ultimately did not move to prevent its use until a lawsuit was filed by residents last week.
The State newspaper reports the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) did not make the town of Denmark stop using HaloSan. It was not until Clemson University researchers learned about its use earlier this year the controversy became public knowledge.
HaloSan is not on the list of approved drinking water treatment items from the Environmental Protection Agency. However, DHEC noted that the American product testing group NSF International had said the chemical normally used to clean hot tubs was safe. The newspaper reported DHEC informed Denmark in 2008 that they could continue using the material.
Records indicated that HaloSan has rarely, if ever, been used in drinking water systems across the country.
Denmark had used the chemical to treat naturally-occurring bacteria which had been turning its water reddish in color.
Former legislator and Bamberg native Bakari Sellers filed a lawsuit this month against the town and DHEC over failing to notify residents about the HaloSan use. The lawsuit seeks refunds for town water customers.