Local News

State Working To Find Source Of Contaminated Wells In Southeast Raleigh

Posted June 11, 2003

— More testing has turning up more contaminated wells in southeast Raleigh.

The state found cancer-causing chemicals in at least 20 wells. Residents need a permanent solution, but their options are expensive.

"You can't taste it to tell that it's contaminated," said the Rev. Jerry Price, the owner of a contaminated well. "We are not to drink the water and we cannot use it for cooking. If we take a shower, it's only to be five minutes or less."

Making matters worse, the Price's and at least 19 other families who live in the southeast Raleigh neighborhood may have to pay thousands of dollars to get drinkable water.

Their wells are contaminated with 12DCP -- a cancer-causing chemical found in paint thinner and gasoline. Two homeowners have small levels of PCE in their wells, which is even more toxic.

The state is trying to find the source. A geologist was hired to find out if underground storage tanks are buried.

"The information we collect is pretty much 100 percent in accuracy," said Ronald Crowson.

Crowson uses a super sensitive metal detector to search property near the homes. A gas station used to be in the area. Nearby, there is a convenience store and body shop. Even if tanks are buried, they may not be the source of the contamination.

Since at least 20 wells are contaminated, residents need a new clean water source; however, making that happen will not be easy.

The first option is to hook the homeowners to city water. If the state finds the person responsible for the contamination, they could be forced to pay for the hook up. Otherwise, homeowners might be stuck with thousands of dollars in fees.

"There's no mechanism in Raleigh to do this short of the city annexing the subdivision," said Dale Crisp, Raleigh Utilities director.

Rev. Price said the families cannot afford to pay.

"We're living in a neighborhood where you have a lot of elderly people on fixed income," he said.

Right now, Price and the others get free bottled water from the state. The water is paid for through a program that helps people whose water is contaminated by underground storage tanks. If it turns out their wells were not contaminated by tanks, the families will have to pay for bottled water themselves.

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