WEST DEPTFORD The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection plans to install water filtration systems on 14 private wells in which tests have shown high contamination levels.

The wells, used for drinking water, have tested positive for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA). The presence of PFNA has prompted five Gloucester County towns to shut down wells because of the unclear health impact.

The state plans to install activated carbon filters, DEP spokesman Larry Hajna said. The water passes through the filters, which remove contaminants, he said. The process could take several weeks.

"The DEP will be continuing to monitor and sample these filters," Hajna said, adding that the filters will be changed as needed.

The cost of the filters was not immediately available. Funding from a state remediation program will be used to pay for the filters.

Hajna said the state plans to take legal action against Solvay Specialty Polymer of West Deptford, the company believed responsible for the spread of PFNA, to recoup the costs.

David Klucsik, a spokesman for Solvay, said the company was "interested in participating in solutions." He said that included possibly picking up the tab for the filters but added that the "details and scope" would have to be worked out.

In May, Solvay said that it would test at least 90 wells in West Deptford and East Greenwich to determine the spread of PFNA. It offered free, delivered bottled water to residents whose wells were being tested.

Hajna said one well tested for the contaminant in West Deptford was found to have a level of 650 parts per trillion. The highest detected was 1,500 parts per trillion, he said.

A DEP proposal calls for a standard of 20 parts per trillion for remediation work.

Experts say the exact health effects of PFNA remain unclear due. A scientific panel that studied perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a sibling chemical, found "probable links" to illnesses including kidney cancer and thyroid disease. PFNA is considered more toxic and biologically persistent than PFOA. - Melanie Burney