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Pennsylvania DEP suspends accreditation of Middletown lab for its handling of water samples

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Posted 4/20/18

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has suspended the laboratory accreditation of Analytical Laboratory Services Inc.’s Middletown facility for continued violations relating …

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Pennsylvania DEP suspends accreditation of Middletown lab for its handling of water samples

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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has suspended the laboratory accreditation of Analytical Laboratory Services Inc.’s Middletown facility for continued violations relating to the handling and reporting of Safe Drinking Water compliance samples.

As a result, according to the department, ALS-Middletown is no longer allowed to conduct tests and analysis of microbiology samples to demonstrate compliance with water quality standards for public drinking water suppliers.

The lab is in Londonderry Township, at 34 Dogwood Lane, behind Love’s Travel Stop.

According to the company’s website, the local laboratory is one of the largest ALS laboratories in the United States, with a “modern 26,000 square-foot facility.”

“We have provided government agencies and the business community with quality analytical solutions in the areas of environmental testing, industrial hygiene and field services for over 25 years,” the website states.

A call to ALS-Middletown were referred to ALS offices in Houston. A message Friday was not returned.

Between July 2017 and March 2018, DEP’s Laboratory Accreditation Program received numerous complaints from ALS-Middletown customers regarding drinking water reporting, sample handling and sample analysis violations, according to the DEP.

During December 2017 and February 2018, the LAP conducted two on-site assessments which revealed repeated deficiencies and violations that had been identified during past on-site assessments in 2013 and 2015.

On Dec. 7, 2017 and March 13, DEP issued ALS-Middletown notices of violations that outlined the repeated violations found by the department and observed during the on-site assessments.

“The department finds it necessary to take this action to protect public health and safety,” said Dr. Martina McGarvey, director of the Bureau of Labs for DEP. “ALS-Middletown has demonstrated an inability or an unwillingness to provide and implement an acceptable corrective action report that will show its ability to end the repeated violations.”

Specifically, the violations included:

• Failure to notify public water supplies within one hour of the determination of an MCL (Maximum Contaminant Level) exceedance.

• Failure to notify DEP in writing within 24 hours of the determination of an MCL exceedance.

• Failure to ensure chains of custody are complete and accurate

• Invalidating sample results that should have been reported to DEP’s Public Water Supply and Drinking Water Electronic Reporting Systems.

An MCL is the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water which is delivered to a user of a public water system under the Safe Drinking Water Act. If a contaminant is found above the MCL value, the public water supplier must take corrective actions to ensure safe and potable water is supplied to the users.

To regain accreditation, ALS-Middletown must provide a written response to each violation listed in the March notice of violation, according to the DEP. This response must provide all documentation necessary to ensure the violations are corrected and will not reoccur. DEP also plans to enter into a consent order and agreement with ALS-Middletown to ensure the implementation of all corrective actions.