GASTONIA, N.C. -- An old chemical waste dump in far western Gaston County has now been designated a “Superfund Site” by the federal Department of Environmental Protection.
The site is located on land near the intersection of Hempfill Road and Forbes Road.
During the 1950s, the EPA says someone used the land to recycle chemical drums.
The drums were crushed and rinsed before being sold as scrap. Chemicals from the drums entered the underground water supply.
“The well here was bad,” said Annette Massey, who has lived in Kensington Estates, a neighborhood near the site.
Massey says when she first moved in nearly a dozen years ago, the drinking water wells were found to be contaminated and the community now gets water from a neighboring development.
The EPA says trichloroethene was found in the underground water supply. TCE, as it is called, is a solvent used to strip grease from metal.
The designation of the property as a Superfund Site means the EPA will now take charge of cleaning up the property.
The EPA says wells that have been contaminated have been capped and some homes nearby have been outfitted with special filters, but one of those filters did not work.
Asked if residents are in any danger, Carolyn Callihan of the EPA’s Atlanta office said, “We don’t think so. We think we have dealt with the immediate threats out there.”
Still, neighbors nearby like Carlos Holland are concerned.
Holland said it didn’t matter if the dumping took place in the 50s or now.
“It’s sad that a company doesn’t take people’s lives into consideration because that is what it comes down to,” he said.
The EPA is planning several meetings with neighbors to explain how the area will finally be cleaned up, but the agency also says the full cleanup could take several years.