Wake Forest, N.C. — State environmental officials began testing the ground around 14 homes near Wake Forest on Monday to determine if a chemical found in local groundwater could be seeping into the air inside the homes.
The state Division of Waste Management drilled 10-foot-deep holes around the homes on Stony Hill Road, so probes could be inserted to test for underground vapors.
The homes have tested positive for dangerous levels of TCE, a cancer-causing degreasing agent, in well water.
Environmental officials say two small circuit-board assembly companies that used to sit on property in the area are likely responsible for the contamination.
"It's just aggravating," said Charles Perry, whose well has some of the highest TCE levels. "I don't even want to wash my face with it."
The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are paying for water lines to be extended from three adjoining community water systems to provide clean water to the affected residents. The lines should be complete early next year.
The underground tests are expected to be done this week, although results won't be available for several weeks.
State officials said there is a good chance they won't find any dangerous vapors.
"It's low probability because the ground water is fairly deep, but out of an abundance of caution, we want to make sure there is not exposure," said John Walch, regional supervisor for clean-up sites for the Division of Waste Management. "If there is. we will address it."
Perry said all he and his neighbors can do is wait for the results.
"That's kind of scary too. I don't know, whatever the good Lord puts on us," he said.