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City Shares Plan to Clean up Contaminated Groundwater, Soil

An investigation found that groundwater and soil around the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant had dangerous levels of nitrate. The city revealed its plan for cleaning up the mess.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — There was concern Thursday over contaminated water in southeast Raleigh.

An investigation had found that groundwater and soil around the Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant had dangerous levels of nitrates, and the city held a meeting to tell area residents its plan for cleaning up the contamination.

Anyone living within a half-mile of the plant, 8500 Battle Bridge Road, and those who live adjacent to contaminated properties are considered to have been impacted, officials said.

The plant, which the city says handles 45 million gallons a day of sewage, is where almost everything that residents flush down their toilets and wash down their drains ends up. The city's other two wastewater plants are much smaller.

At the Neuse River plant, the wastewater was filtered and treated, and what was left behind was spread on fields surrounding the plant.

An investigation revealed dangerous levels of nitrates in the soil and groundwater in 2003, however, and the state ordered the field-distribution of waste leftovers to stop.

The city came up with a plan to clean up the contamination and shared it with the public Thursday night. Everyone who lives in the affected area received notice, but not everyone was satisfied with what's being done.

“I’m definitely going to have the water tested, probably through a private agency. But I would prefer to have the city of Raleigh pay for it,” said April Nash.

The city tested 75 private wells and found seven with high levels of nitrates. The city extended public water lines to all 75 homes.

Mickey Stricker lives a half-mile from the plant. He's still on well water, but he said he’s concerned the contamination might spread.

“They said they had no problems with it 25 years ago when they started with it,” he said. “They said there wasn’t going to be a problem, and everything was going to be OK, and now we have a problem. So, what’s going to happen 25 years from now?”

Consuming nitrates in large quantities can make people sick. So far, city officials said they have not heard any complaints of health problems. They've hired groundwater experts to remove the nitrates.

The city's assistant public works director said he is confident the contamination will not spread.


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