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Garner Dry Cleaner Allegedly Poisons Nearby Wells

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GARNER, N.C. — State officials said the previous owner of a local dry cleaner is responsible for poisoning the drinking water of some Garner residents.

According to officials, cleaning solvents used by the business somehow seeped into the soil and poisoned the groundwater. The state said private wells that provide water to 10 homes and one business in the Fayetteville Road area now test positive for contamination.

Doris Buffaloe and her husband received a letter from the state that said their well was contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

"We went for a year trying to get them to do something, and couldn't use the water to drink," said Buffaloe.

The state set up test wells to find the source of the contamination, which led them to the nearby dry cleaner, said officials.

"These solvents have been identified as hazardous substances, so they do have suspected or known health affects," said John Powers with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The former owner was ordered to pay $5,000 and install filters on the contaminated wells. But the filters are only a temporary solution. The state plans to ask the town of Garner to connect them to city water.

Buffaloe fears the damage may already be done.

"I hate to think about it," she said.

The situation is not uncommon. State officials said there are 141 similar sites statewide, where the operators' handling of cleaning solvents contaminated the soil and drinking water.

Another community off Strickland Road in North Raleigh is dealing with the same issue. An old dry cleaner is being blamed for contaminating three wells. On Tuesday night, the City Council approved an emergency request from the state to extend public drinking water to the affected homeowners.

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