JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - It’s been almost two weeks without water for some Craft-Turney water supply customers near Jacksonville. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is working to uncover the source of the contamination and who may be at fault.
The suspected contaminant is a fungicide, and the trade name for the fungicide is NeXgen.
Thirteen days after the water was shut off, residents learned the name of the chemical that infiltrated their water supply.
NeXgen is produced by a company in Tennessee, and a company safety sheet says the product contains chlorothalonil. But what is it?
Smith County extension agent Clint Perkins explained. “Chlorothalonil is a fungicide used in lawn and gardens for different agronomic crops as well as golf courses. It’s a fungicide, so it is a pesticide."
Perkins went on to say the chemical is often used to protect produce.
“What happens is, when you put it on your crop as a preventative, then it prevents the fungus from ever occurring,” Perkins said.
Perkins said while using too much does not hurt crops, the company that manufactures it says even a small amount can be harmful to people.
Ingesting it can also cause “corrosive action to the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach tissue.” This is something residents who consumed the water that night two weeks ago know well.
“It was like, ‘Oh my gosh, we have chemicals on us, at 11:30 at night.’ I run to Craft-Turney, I get the water jugs, I get the water and we are pouring cold water all over our bodies. Of course, your skin is a sponge, so you know, what damage is done is already there,” one Craft-Turney customer said.
Many customers are concerned about possible carcinogenic effects.
“It’s possible that it could cause cancer in humans, but we don’t know that with any level of certainty,” said Dr. Jeffrey Levin with UT Health Science Center at Tyler.
However, the state of California recognizes NeXgen as a cancer-causing chemical. That determination has not been made by the state of Texas.
While the investigation is ongoing, TCEQ says they will take appropriate action once their evaluation and tests are complete. If violations are serious enough, TECQ will typically enforce action that could result in administrative orders that are issued by the TCEQ commissioners and referral of the case to the Office of the Attorney General for civil litigation.