EPA issues notice to revoke GWA lab certification - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

EPA issues notice to revoke GWA lab certification

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 by Jolene Toves

Guam - There is no room for error when it comes to testing the quality of our water as one mistake can impact thousands and that is a chance Guam EPA is willing to take.

"One of the main things that a USEPA certified lab should be able to accomplish is to successfully analyze and test for total coliform fecal coliform and e. coli  as it relates to human health and the environment as well," said Guam EPA Eric Palacios. And as we reported last week GWA failed a  recent standardized proficiency test for recertification, more specifically the testing of samples which were both clean and pre-loaded with total coliform bacteria and e. Coli.

"The reason why Guam EPA issued an intent to revoke is because the lab did not catch one sample that contained e.coli it was a false negative and we had to initiate this new process as we still work with them to obtain a three year certification," he said.

According to Palacios in testing the island's drinking water quality there is no margin for error an these certifications are required to ensure any drinking water samples being tested for bacteria, total coliform and e. Coli are correctly analyzed.  "It has to be accurate because by the same token especially when you are dealing with more samples if you miss one representative sample form out on the field it can impact thousands of residents in that distribution area so the margin for error is miniscule its practically zero," he said.

Palacios says that GWA's laboratory is operating on a provisional certification as their full certification expired in July, kickstarting the renewal process for USEP certification. "There are different testing parameters and standards that are in place to ensure that a lab that is hoping to become USEPA certified must meet and must attain and it includes laboratory personnel, laboratory equipment, sampling methods and other SOP as a whole," he said.

According to Palacios it has not been determined why GWA's laboratory produced a false negative but says GEPA must now determine whether it was due to faulty equipment, sampling methods or a number of other factors contributing to the failure.

"So they are technically operating under a provisional certification right now so there are certain milestones that they will need to meet in the next 30- 60 days the results or the performance of which determine whether or not they get re-certified as a lab," he said.

In the interim he says there are two labs outside of GEPA that can test water quality they are DZSP and WERI, but says while that may be an immediate option for GWA should they not receive re-certification it may also be a costly one. He adds, that in order for GWA to regain its provisional certification they must successfully return a total of three sample analysis from a third party laboratory within 60 days from the issuance of the revocation notice which was issued last week. Meanwhile Consolidated Commission on Utilities chairman Simon Sanchez says they are concerned but have been reassured by GWA that they are confident they will be able to comply and regain certification in the next 60 days. 
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