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Questions Remain Over Clean-Up Of Lake Crabtree

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Local leaders who were hoping to know exactly when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will clean up the pollution around Lake Crabtree and Brier Creek came away with more questions than answers.

The EPA said that cancer-causing toxins, called polychlorinated biphenyls, leaked into the lake from the Ward Transformer facility and continue to spread through other waterways.

Raleigh and Wake County leaders formed a joint task force to address the problem. Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said before the meeting Thursday that he was hoping to hear from the EPA a cleanup schedule and when it would be completed.

Meeker also said that the cleanup should not only focus on the Ward location, but also the creeks that are carrying the PCBs beyond Lake Crabtree.

However, during the meeting, the attorney for the EPA repeatedly deflected questions about the agency's investigation and the timeline for the clean-up. He also refused to answer questions from WRAL after the meeting. He did assure the taskforce the process would take less than five years.

After 25 years of pollution, cleaning it all up may not be so simple.

One factor that could complicate the cleanup is the cost. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, dozens of companies sent broken transformers, which leaked PCBs, to the Ward facility for repair. The EPA said that all of those companies should share in the cost. So far, only Progress Energy and another company have offered to pay.

In the meantime, signs at Lake Crabtree Park warn people not to eat the fish because of the dangerous levels of PCBs in the water that have soaked into the fish. While officials discuss clean-up efforts, local health officials are asking people who regularly eat fish from Lake Crabtree to get their blood tested.


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