EPA and City of Silex, Missouri reach agreement on Safe Drinking Water Act violations

Glass of Water or Drinking Water upgrades News Graphic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement with the City of Silex, Missouri, to resolve alleged violations of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Under an Administrative Compliance Order filed on Oct. 26, 2023, the city will develop and submit plans to EPA to address radium contamination in the city’s drinking water.

“EPA is encouraged that the City of Silex has committed to short- and long-term plans to protect its citizens,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “EPA is committed to continue providing technical assistance to the city, and to keep the public informed on progress to address this problem.”

According to EPA, since 2012, Silex has reported levels of radium in its drinking water supply that exceed federal standards. Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive substance found in the subsurface. As it decays, radium emits low levels of radiation that can lead to an increased risk of cancer over long-term exposure.

EPA held a Public Meeting in Silex on Oct. 5, 2023. Representatives explained that although radium may cause health-related issues over time, the levels of radium in Silex’s drinking water do not pose a significant health risk from acute or short-term exposure, and Silex residents can continue to drink the water. However, EPA encouraged members of the Silex community who are concerned to use alternate drinking water. EPA also indicated that the Silex drinking water is safe to use for bathing, showering, hand washing, and other uses involving dermal contact.

Under the terms of the order, Silex will submit and implement a short-term plan to provide alternate drinking water to residents, while also implementing a long-term plan to bring the drinking water system into compliance with federal radium standards.