Clean water offers little relief for Wake Forest homeowners
Posted November 10, 2012 7:40 p.m. EST
Updated November 10, 2012 11:14 p.m. EST
Wake Forest, N.C. — Homeowners in the Stony Hill Road area near Wake Forest will soon be able to turn on the tap, but clean water from Aqua will do little to wash away long-term health and economic concerns.
For weeks, residents have been subsisting on bottled water after a test showed the presence of TCE, a degreasing agent known to cause cancer, in well water that served them. More than a dozen wells were found to have dangerous levels of the substance.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will pay to run lines to pump clean water to 40 homes where contamination was found. The work should be complete by the new year.
"I think it's great. It's great that we are going to be getting that water," said Mark Stonefield.
But water won't solve all of his problems. Tests showed TCE vapors were also present in the soil of a field next door. Next week, environmental investigators will drill in to the floor of his cellar to see if the vapors have seeped into his home.
John Roth, says residents of the nearby Stonewalls community are pleased with the water but remain concerned about the long-term health impact.
"Once this stuff gets inside you, I haven't heard very good news about getting it out," Roth said.
Joseph Threadcraft, director of Wake County Environmental Services, said that there is a possibility that the homes could be included on the EPA's National Priorities List for clean-up and that the homes could also be declared a Superfund site.
Superfund is a federal program that allows the EPA to clean up sites with hazardous waste and compel those responsible for the waste to pay for the cleanup.
Officials have identified three likely sources for the TCE contamination: circuit board manufacturers – C-Tron, Circuit Board Assemblers and Flextronics – that used to operate in the area.
That worries Stonefield, who fears for his property value. "People aren't going to willing to pay for a home if there is groundwater contamination, even if you have clean water coming into the home," he said. "There are still going to be groundwater concerns."