After a social media post questioned if the drinking water at the Tucker Unit prison was "humane treatment," the Arkansas Department of Correction said in a statement that the water is safe to drink despite its reddish-brown color.
On Monday, a person shared three videos in a Facebook group that were allegedly filmed inside the Tucker Unit prison. In one video, a faucet drips with water that is a dark red color while another video shows the sink full of reddish-brown water. Another video shows what the person called "black mold" inside the shower area.
"Is this humane treatment?" the Facebook user asked. "Or the makings of a concentration camp?"
Solomon Graves, ADC's spokesperson, said in a statement that the reddish-brown water is because of iron in the water wells. He said the town of Tucker and nearby areas are "known for the issue due to the iron levels in the aquifer" they draw water from.
Graves said there is an aeration system to remove the iron from the water, but that parts of the pumping system needs to be replaced. Though the department replaced two filters, he said ADC is awaiting results from the Arkansas Department of Health before more repairs are made.
"The current water supply at Tucker Unit continues to meet state standards and pass monthly safety tests by the Department of Correction and annual safety tests by the Arkansas Department of Health," Graves said. "[The water] remains safe for drinking, cooking, bathing, etc."
In the health department's 2016 annual drinking water quality report, it assessed the source water for potential contamination and found that it had "low to medium susceptibility to contamination."
The test requires that one sample per month test positive for total coliform bacteria, which is an organism that is present in the "environment and in the feces of all warm-blooded animals and humans." The presence of this bacteria is used to gauge if any other potentially harmful bacteria is present. In February 2016, the Tucker Unit tested positive twice for coliform bacteria and the report stated "this was a warning of potential problems." In 2015, four positive samples of coliform were found in two different months.
In both reports, action was taken after the positive tests to adjust the disinfectant level and monitoring was resumed.
The 2015 test also found that the prison unit had "corrosion from household plumbing systems" and "erosion of natural deposits." A lead and copper tap monitoring test will be conducted in 2018 to determine if the levels have increase or decreased.
Graves said the department has not received any information that would "indicate the presence of black mold" in the shower area, but it would investigate if such information was provided to the ADC.
In recent months, prisoners at the maximum security prison have caused three serious incidents. Two guards and an inmate were attacked in July, inmates took over the unit with officers inside in August, and two officers were taken hostage in November.
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