WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — For generations, Lake Crabtree was a source of food for some Triangle residents. But after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered dangerous levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in the lake, signs warn people not to eat the lake's fish and those who have in the past could be at risk of developing cancer.
And now, the EPA plans to step in and clean up the source of toxins at Lake Crabtree.
"We do know there have been studies that show a correlation between ingesting polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the development of diseases," Gibbie Harris of the Wake County Health Department said.
EPA officials said it would clean up the Ward Transformer Sales and Service site, which is believed to be the source of the potentially deadly chemicals.
They said the pollution at the Ward facility was so bad that the site is on the agency's national priority list. WRAL was unable to reach the owner of the Ward facility for comment.
The cleanup will start in the fall, officials said.
Local officials said the sampling done by the EPA so far at Lake Crabtree did not show the full amount of PCBs in the lake and how far the PCBs have spread to other bodies of water. The toxins spread every time it rains and could eventually reach the Atlantic Ocean, officials said.
"There are PCBs moving; they are going downstream as we speak," David Carter, director of the Wake County Parks and Recreation Department, said. "We'd like to see a larger sample size and further testing downstream."
Until further testing, a task force -- made up of local government leaders and environmental experts -- encourages people who have regularly eaten fish caught in the lake to get a blood test.
"It's worth being screened so we can see if we are having problems in certain populations," Harris said.
On August 4, EPA officials from Atlanta will be in Raleigh to meet with the task force and explain how the cleanup will work.