Local News

Judge Halts Cleanup Work At Apex EQ Site

Posted October 26, 2006

— A federal judge halted cleanup work at the Environmental Quality Industrial Services hazardous waste storage facility due to a class-action lawsuit filed by some Apex residents after a fire three weeks ago.

The legal work stoppage comes at a time when state officials are conducting more comprehensive testing for hazardous chemical residue in neighborhoods near the EQ site. Those tests will continue, but for now, work at the EQ site will stop until further notice.

Judge Halts Cleanup Work At Apex EQ Site

Before the court-ordered work stoppage, town leaders said crews had completed about 90 percent of the work. The scrap metal from the burned-out building was hauled away and the hazardous materials were put in containers. Now, the ruling puts the rest on hold, and that's not sitting well with Apex Mayor Keith Weatherly.

"We had every expectation that the cleanup would be finished by the end of this week," said Weatherly.

Weatherly's concerns reflect the mood of community members. Wendy Hall lives less than half a mile from the EQ site.

"They need to get it out from over there," said Hall. "The safety of the citizens (is) more important than the lawsuits are."

Attorneys representing four Apex residents filed the class-action lawsuit to protect evidence at the facility. WRAL has learned the attorneys want time to collect their own samples from the site.

"As soon as the matter is resolved, we'll resume cleanup," said Dexter Matthews with the state's Division of Waste Management.

The Division of Waste Management is in charge of the cleanup. Matthews said the judge's ruling would delay the removal of hazardous materials.

"It's not going to move off site until we get analyses back, the samples characterized, have them taken and sent off for more analysis," he said. "Once that comes back, then the ultimate disposal of the waste will be determined."

"Before we can start providing assurances to our community that the site is safe, it's required the materials be off," Weatherly said.

For the company's part, EQ officials said they don't plan to appeal the ruling, saying the company is in full compliance.

WRAL has learned the Division of Waste Management is working with the plaintiff's attorneys to obtain the information they requested so work could resume at the site. There is no word yet on when that will happen.


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