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Contamination clean-up near Wake Forest homes could take years

Posted October 25, 2012

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— Officials with Wake County Environmental Services, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say it could take years to clean up contaminated water in wells of at least 20 homes near Wake Forest.

The well water of homes in the Stony Hill Road area has tested positive for TCE, a cancer-causing degreasing agent. More than a dozen have dangerous levels of the substance.

"We are dealing with a dynamic and very complex issue. There is no short-term corrective action plan," Wake County Environmental Services Director Joseph Threadcraft told reporters Thursday. "We have further concerns, in that long-term remediation is a footprint that (has) no guarantees, and it has not been mapped out."

Threadcraft said that there is a possibility that the homes could be included on the EPA's National Priorities List for clean-up and that the homes could also be declared a Superfund site.

Superfund is a federal program that allows the EPA to clean up sites with hazardous waste and compel those responsible for the waste to pay for the cleanup.

"Those programs are some time away," Threadcraft said.

The DENR first knew seven years ago about contamination in at least one well in the area, but officials thought it was an isolated case, and it became one of more than 2,400 hazardous waste cases statewide, making it a low priority for clean-up.

When the state went back to the area in recent months as part of its investigation, other wells showed at least trace levels of TCE.

TCE contamination could take years to resolve TCE contamination could take years to resolve

Since July, however, that number has risen to 20 – 14 with dangerous levels – prompting the state to move the site to the top of its priority list.

Testing continues on homes in the area, and the EPA is funding a waterline extension from nearby community water systems to provide affected residents with clean drinking water.

Officials have identified three likely sources for the TCE contamination: circuit board manufacturers – C-Tron, Circuit Board Assemblers and Flextronics – that used to operate in the area.

In the past two weeks, the EPA also said Thursday, it has discovered an area 2 miles north of Stony Hill Road, in Mangum Estates, that's also contaminated with TCE.

So far, nine wells there have tested positive for unsafe levels. Officials say there isn't enough information to know whether they are connected and that they are still testing both sites.

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  • Ernest B. Oct 30, 2012

    The free market will fix this - the buyers of upper end homes were free to spend a modest amount to test soil and water when they were under contract - they chose not to and now want government intervention. -independent_thinker

    Give me a break man. Who the heck tests the soil when making a home purchase? I paid for my home inspection, it didn't include inspecting the water or the soil. Your idea of making the individual purchaser to be somehow responsible for everything is nonsense. Should the purchaser do a geological survey to make sure that a volcano doesn't form where the home is located? Should the purchaser do a astronomical survey to get the probability of the house being hit with an asteroid?

  • stripe01 Oct 26, 2012

    A law to require such testing of wells was shot down so it didn't impact the "housing market". when asked to test the wells, the homeowners either didn't respond or declined.
    the company that did the contaminating is at fault.
    DUH!

  • independent_thinker Oct 25, 2012

    How much is your home worth when it's part of a Superfund site?

    Conservatives and Republicans should agree - get the government out of this - it's a transaction between a private seller and buyer - there is no need to involve any government agency or entity. The free market will fix this - the buyers of upper end homes were free to spend a modest amount to test soil and water when they were under contract - they chose not to and now want government intervention.

    Don't let yourself be one of Mitt's 47% victims.

  • blacksuv1962 Oct 25, 2012

    The state and county has known about this for THREE years. DUH......

  • geosol Oct 25, 2012

    But we should stop regulating companies and let the free market take care of things like this!! Caveat emptor, right wingers? We need less government and more money to big corporations. They ALWAYS do what's best!

  • storchheim Oct 25, 2012

    Hope the electronic toys were worth it. Think hard before you buy the latest and greatest of everything you don't need.

    It gets better. These homeowners will have fun trying to sell, when they have to disclose this.

  • mhamilton23 Oct 25, 2012

    Banks do not require VOC testing or environmental assessments. We were only required to test our water for basic bacteria. Our home was built in this area in 2006 and we were not notified of contaminated wells. Today we have contaminated water. It was definitely irresponsible to allow us and all of our neighbors to build.

  • Capt Mercury Oct 25, 2012

    And if you think this is the only place where TCE or some other toxic chemical has been dumped..... I wonder how many of these homeowners with contaminated wells wanted government out of their lives and to abolish the EPA before they themselves became a victim.

  • aspenstreet1717 Oct 25, 2012

    Put them on city water and forget about it.

  • sctech Oct 25, 2012

    All the fracking supporters make sure you see what the cost is here in WF. Now, imagine a much larger scale. Of course the taxpayer is always left to foot the bill.

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