Local News

U.S. Airing Plan for PCB Dredging Near RDU

Posted August 14, 2007 6:22 p.m. EDT
Updated August 14, 2007 6:56 p.m. EDT

— Federal environmental officials are looking for public comment on a $5 million plan to dredge up Lower Brier Creek and Lake Crabtree sediments that were contaminated decades ago by carcinogenic chemicals from a transformer-manufacturing plant near Raleigh Durham International Airport.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources put the plan on the agenda for a public meeting Tuesday evening at the Hilton North Raleigh Hotel.

The rest of the plan calls for testing Brier Creek Reservoir, Lake Crabtree and Lower Crabtree Creek downstream from the Ward Transformer Co. site to see if the contamination by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) goes down naturally, as experts expect. Officials will also continue state-imposed warnings against eating fish from the waters.

"There has been an environmental issue there for over 30 years,” said Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan.

Bryan said he and others have urged the EPA to clean up the mess, which can be a drawn out process as officials research the site and weight the options. The Ward site was elevated to the EPA's national priority list for cleanups, known as the Superfund list.

"The public sees this as a bureaucracy. They are ready for it to be cleaned up and to be safe," Bryan said.

PCBs were used widely in electrical transformers as an insulator because they would not burn in the high temperatures inside. Manufacturers stopped using them after their toxic properties became known.

The cleanup plan, which officials plan to finalize next month, is the second part of a cleanup of 11 acres where the Ward Transformer Co. was built in 1964. Soil removal has been going on at the facility site itself and water close to it.

The site is between U.S. Highway 70 and Interstate 40.