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Stamford Officials: Uranium Seeping Into Well Water

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STAMFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) — Homes that use water from wells are at risk for uranium exposure, health officials in Stamford say — and the problem could potentially extend into New York state.

As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, the city of Stamford has started testing 5,000 wells in its posh northern area. Many of the wells are tucked away in the basements of homes far from public water systems.

“It’s naturally occurring in the bedrock, and what happens is it leeches from the bedrock into the groundwater and gets into your well,” said Anne Fountain, director of Stamford’s Department of Health and Social Services.

It’s not just uranium that is turning up, but arsenic as well. There is no danger of radiation, officials said, but long-term ingestion could lead to kidney damage.

“Well water is not pristine,” said Jim Federici, Stamford lab director. “There’s stuff in there. And if you don’t test, you won’t know what’s there.”

Stamford officials said they were surprised to find uranium in 70 percent of the wells they have tested in the first round.

Gail Okun, a homeowner and an advocate of the testing program, said there was some initial resistance from people worried about the value of their homes, but that has been fading.

“There were people who didn’t want to test and share the results,” Okun said. “I think the mind-set (now) is, we’re going to test, we’re going to share, and we’re going to take care of the problem.”

The city conducts the test for $100. The same tests on the private market cost more than three times that amount.

The problem can be fixed with a fairly simple filtration system specifically geared for uranium.

So far, neighboring Greenwich has not tested well water despite recommendations from the state Health Department. Connecticut officials also suggest that the uranium issue does not stop at the state line.

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