Local News

EPA clearing 20-year-old chemicals from Rocky Mount land

Posted July 7, 2011 8:27 p.m. EDT
Updated July 8, 2011 10:24 a.m. EDT

— The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been working to remove hundreds of barrels of chemicals that have sat more than 20 years at a fenced-in private property at the end of Romie Lane in Rocky Mount street.

EPA officials said Thursday that they found five abandoned trailers filled with 400 55-gallon oil drums containing a wide range of chemicals, including solvents, strong acids, organic peroxide and some unknowns.

Authorities became aware of the trailers after a man purchased one of them from the land's owner, who had taken over the land after his father died.

Some of the chemicals had to be detonated to be disposed of properly, authorities said. It could take another 30 days before the site is cleared.

In the meantime, the agency is conducting air quality tests every few hours for contamination. The county is also testing well water as a precaution.

Resident Holly Schuman said she became concerned last week after hearing a blast in the area and seeing EPA representatives in the field at all hours of the night.

"We didn't know what it was, but we saw the bomb squad down here, two sheriff's cars and ambulances, and we were concerned about the noise," she said.

She said she was relieved to know that authorities are now taking care of what could have been a very dangerous situation.

"Now that I know what's going on, I feel a lot better about this," she said.