Friday, April 26, 2013

Lack of TCE Warning Has Residents Steamed

By: Nathan Lamb

A recently discovered cluster of contaminated wells has residents of Wake Forest, North Carolina asking why they weren’t warned about the problem in 2005, according to this NBC news story.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testing over the past year has discovered the carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE) in 21 wells across a 500-acre area around Stony Hill Road in the town of Wake Forest.

While the EPA has installed water filters to alleviate the problem, several residents were outraged to learn that the state discovered TCE contamination in a neighborhood well in 2005, but never alerted them.

The contamination is thought to date back 10 years, when TCE was used to clean circuit boards in a neighborhood shed.

The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), which made the initial discovery, compiled an internal report saying the extent of the contamination was unclear and that other wells in the area should be tested.

A DENR spokesperson said the problem appeared to be confined to the single residential well, adding the agency has finite resources and higher-risk sites that took priority.

Last summer, the DENR advised area residents to get their water tested, and sought assistance from the EPA, which tested roughly 100 wells.

TCE is an industrial solvent that’s often used for degreasing. Improperly disposed of, it can create harmful vapors and migrate through groundwater.

Located roughly 18 miles northeast of Raleigh, Wake Forest has a population of roughly 31,000 people.


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