Officials address concerns about toxic chemical

October 25, 2012 3:19:19 PM PDT
Homeowners in two in Wake County neighborhoods where contaminated water has been found got some answers Thursday morning during a news conference.

A cancer-causing chemical has been found at dangerous levels in drinking water wells serving homes just off Stony Hill Road in Wake Forest.

Several agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and officials with the state health department, explained when the contamination was found and how they are handling the situation.

Authorities said the carcinogen found in drinking water came from a now defunct plant. The cancer causing chemical, Trichloroethylene or TCE, was used to clean machine parts. The EPA said it's used as a machine degreaser, but no one knows how it got there.

In 2005, Wake County officials said groundwater in one well tested positive with TCE after a homeowner complained the water smelled funny, however other nearby wells tested fine. Seven years later not far from the original testing site, another well tested positive with the chemical.

Officials are still talking to the three plants that used to be in the area where the contamination was found.

"Within that area and any other area that's contaminated, sampling is part of the approval process, so it will have to be and areas where there is no risk known to us," one official said. "The county doesn't automatically require property owners and builders to test for possible organics. They may do that but it's not a county requirement."

Authorities have put residents in contact with physicians and said they are looking into if the area could become a Superfund Site, which is an EPA program to clean up areas contaminated with hazardous materials.

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