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Apex Residents Await Test Results After EQ Fire

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APEX, N.C. — Three weeks after state inspectors tested for contaminants near a hazardous waste facility in Apex, nearby residents still haven't received the test results.
An Oct. 5 chemical fire at the Environmental Quality Industrial Services operation prompted the evacuation of about 17,000 Apex residents.

Extensive testing during and immediately after the fire found no short-term contamination problems. But local officials pressured the state into testing for heavy metals and other signs of contamination to determine if anything was released during the fire that might have long-term health effects for residents.

Inspectors took water and soil samples and swabbed interior surfaces of about 30 locations in Apex.

"Anything that goes up in the sky eventually falls down, and we were worried about things getting into our lawn and into the water," said Dominique Larance, who lives in the Surrey Meadows subdivision near the EQ site.

Stephen Livesay, his pregnant wife and their 2-year-old daughter live less than a mile from the site, and Livesay is concerned about his family.

"The delay (in the test results) makes me think there is something wrong," he said. "If the preliminary results are coming back and they are coming back positive, we have the right to know."

Diana Kees, the director of communications for the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said all of the samples are being analyzed by an outside laboratory.

"Once the lab has completed its work, state scientists must analyze all three types of testing in relation to each other to allow scientists to reach more informed conclusions, identify any potential contamination trends and avoid misinterpretation of individual test results," Kees said in a written statement to WRAL.

State officials said the final analysis should be ready by mid-November.

Many Apex residents said waiting is difficult, but Larance said she agrees with the state's approach.

"We'd rather they be thorough than be in a rush and then get it wrong and have to redo it," Larance said.


Mark Simpson, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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