Residents in Wake Forest aren't too happy and with good reason. They just found out that officials with the state of North Carolina have known that the area has been dealing with water that has been contaminated with a number of toxic chemicals for over 5 years -- and residents were never notified.
According to NBC News, the EPA got in touch with some families in the area last summer, telling them that their water was contaminated and they were at higher risks for cancer because of the trichloroethylene, or TCE, in it. They were instructed not to bathe, drink or cook with the water.
"It makes me feel horrible," said local homeowner Michele Hamilton said about giving the unknowingly contaminated water to her children. "They're the most important things to me."
Our Wake Forrest personal injury lawyers understand that city water departments are required to ensure that water meets federal safety standards and is safe for residents and others to use. According to the United State Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these public drinking water systems are required to provide areas with safe and clean drinking water. Private, individual household wells, are not regulated by EPA. Still, private wells are also affected in this situation.
Just days after homeowners were called, the EPA activated an emergency command post and placed safe water on the doorsteps of these individuals every day. Officials with the EPA also installed water filters in the residences in which the contamination level read above the federal safety standard. There was also a meeting held within the community to explain that kind of water these residents were consuming.
According to the leader of the North Carolina University's Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology, TCE is in fact a chemical that is used within the cleaning industry. It's used to remove grease. It's effective, it's cheap and it's extremely toxic. Studies on animals have concluded that this chemical can do some serious harm when ingested. It's so serious that it can cause cancer. It can cause lung cancer, breast cancer and even leukemia.
There are residents in the area who claim they now have Parkinson's disease, cysts and lumps in their breasts. Doctors have yet to confirm that these conditions are a result of the contaminated water.
It all started 10 years ago. Circuit boards in a shed near Stony Hill Road were cleaned with the toxin. The chemical left the building and went right into the ground. Three years later, the chemical was found in the well of the home next door. The reason it made it to water elsewhere in the area is because the chemical is heavier than water. It easily sinks into the ground and into groundwater. There, it spread through the water table and into wells that are nearby.
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources are looking into the claims.