APEX, N.C. — Apex residents affected by the recent chemical fire may soon breathe a sigh of relief. Homeowners have demanded more testing for contaminants in neighborhoods surrounding the Environmental QUality Industrial Services warehouse, and the state is taking action.
The fire at the temporary storage facility for hazardous materials happened two weeks ago. The fire is out, but homeowners say they fear dangerous chemicals might still be lingering on surfaces inside and outside of their homes.
Denise Davis lives with her two small children less than a quarter of a mile from the site.
"Who's to say that my child isn't playing in a contaminated area?" Davis said.
State officials told WRAL they would begin testing in communities surrounding the site as early as Friday.
"We will be starting close to the site and then moving outward," said Tom Mather, a spokesman for the state Division of Air Quality.
Mather said crews would collect 30 samples by wiping outdoor surfaces, like porches, windowsills and swing sets. The samples will be taken at homes and business. The state will also collect samples from places that were upwind for the sake of comparison.
"We will send those results to a laboratory to be tested for a range of different metals and toxic chemicals," Mather said.
The State Department of Health and Human Services plans to conduct similar tests inside homes and businesses near the site. The State Division of Waste Management will be testing the soil in similar locations.
"Every day, it's pretty much something I think about," said Michelle Murrell. She lives down the street from the site, and she said she couldn't understand why something wasn't done sooner.
"I don't know why it didn't happen two weeks ago," she said.
State officials admitted that they weren't prepared for the explosion.
"We haven't done this type of testing before, so we had to order the equipment to do it," said Mather.
The state plans to test surfaces for substances like mercury, nickel and arsenic. One of the reasons they are only taking 30 samples is because of the cost. The analysis will cost the state about $20,000. If there are poisitve results, officials said, there will be more testing.