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Cleanup of toxic site near RDU planned

Posted September 23

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— A settlement reached Thursday clears the way for a $5.5 million cleanup of cancer-causing PCBs from Brier Creek, Crabtee Creek, Lake Crabtree and nearby tributaries, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

"This legal agreement ensures that the remaining PCB contamination surrounding the Ward Transformer site in Raleigh will be cleaned up by potentially responsible parties," Anne Heard, the EPA's acting regional administrator for the Southeast, said in a statement. "EPA welcomes the path forward toward restoring the water bodies surrounding the site so that future generations may enjoy them."

Ward Transformer opened a plant on 11 acres off Mount Herman Church Road, near Raleigh-Durham International Airport, in 1964. During the repair or reconditioning of electrical transformers, fluids contaminated with PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, which were used for insulation and cooling, were frequently spilled, causing widespread soil contamination that spread into nearby waterways, officials said.

The site has been the subject of cleanup efforts for more than three decades, and it was added to the national Superfund list in 2003.

The settlement with 173 companies and individuals calls for excavating PCB-contaminated soil and sediment and monitoring sediment and aquatic life to ensure cleanup goals are being met, officials said. The removal process will minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination, they said.

The EPA previously struck a deal with parties responsible for the pollution to clean up the most heavily contaminated soil and debris at the site. About 488 tons of it was dug up, treated and moved to a hazardous waste landfill between 2005 and last year.

A fund set up during previous settlements over contamination at the Ward Transformer site will pay $405,000 toward the latest cleanup effort. Carr & Duff Inc., one of the parties in the latest settlement, also will also pay $40,000 in civil penalties for its failure to comply with a 2011 court order for cleanup work.

Even that won't be enough to finish cleaning up the site, however. The EPA said yet another study is underway on the long-term feasibility of cleanup and remediation, and that study is expected to be released this winter.

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  • Rod Runner Sep 24, 11:45 a.m.
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    What does that have to do with this article?

  • Ken Ackerman Sep 24, 6:59 a.m.
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    You make an excellent point. If the material is in the stream sediments they will have to use great care to remove it without allowing further contamination. That said, given that PCBs aren't easily broken down, aren't water soluble, are readily absorbed through the skin and are lipophilic (they get in your body and stay there) I think it's probably a greater risk to leave them in place.

  • Jim Frei Sep 23, 7:37 p.m.
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    With all the construction in the Brier Creek and Lake Crabtree watershed in the past 10 years, most of the PCB-soils on the stream bottoms are probably buried under sediment. Maybe the better solution is to leave it in place.

  • Justin Briller Sep 23, 6:41 p.m.
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    And Bernie is voting for Hillary. Didn't he have unpleasant things to say about her. The liberal media these days is so obviously slanted waaaayyyy to the left. GGEEEEZZZZ