[Durham INC] Reply from NIS? State investigating 11 chemical spill sites in Durham (Herald-Sun)
Burton.Rauch at durhamnc.gov
Wed Jun 24 13:04:14 EDT 2009
I just spoke with Billy Meyer from the State Environmental Dept. He told
me that the State does not have the regulatory authority to publish the
sites they are evaluating. The person to contact for more information
John Powers, Program Manager, Dry Cleaning Solvent Clean Up Program
john.powers at ncdenr.gov
City of Durham, NC
Neighborhood Improvement Services
919-560-1647 ext 34232
burton.rauch at durhamnc.gov
From: Hester, Rick
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 11:54 AM
To: John Schelp; inc-list at DurhamINC.org; pac2 at yahoogroups.com
Cc: Stancil, Constance; Rauch, Burton; Blalock, Amy; Thompson, Beverly
Subject: RE: Reply from NIS? State investigating 11 chemical spill sites
in Durham (Herald-Sun)
This is not something that we would have but Burt is talking with the
state folks about where the list might be found. We have nothing to do
with chemicals. Soon as we know something I will post whatever info we
Neighborhood Improvement Services
807 E. Main Street Suite 300
919 560-1647 x34236 office
919 730-6349 mobile
From: John Schelp [mailto:bwatu at yahoo.com]
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2009 10:33 AM
To: inc-list at DurhamINC.org
Subject: Reply from NIS? State investigating 11 chemical spill sites in
Any news from Neighborhood Improvement Services about when they might
post the list of 11 chemical spill sites in Durham that the State is
Date: Sunday, June 21, 2009, 9:13 AM
Below is an article from [Sunday's] Herald-Sun that contains some
troubling information about the State not informing neighborhoods of
several chemical spills in Durham.
Can Neighborhood Improvement Services please post the list of 11
chemical spill sites in Durham that the State is investigating?
Contaminants force church to move
By Ray Gronberg, Herald-Sun, 21 June 2009
State and city officials closed a West Club Boulevard church in May
after learning that the building it was using, a one-time dry cleaning
store, is the source of a chemical contamination.
An inspector from the city's Neighborhood Improvement Services
Department condemned the building at 1103 W. Club Blvd. on May 11 on the
grounds that fumes of a chemical called perchloroethylene were evident
inside the structure.
The chemical, also known as tetrachloroethylene, perc or PCE, is a
common dry cleaning solvent. Regulators consider it a "probable
carcinogen," said John Powers, head of the special remediation branch of
the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources' Superfund
The order displaced the congregation of the Word of Faith Christian
Community. Condemnation means a building cannot be rented out until
repairs occur, said Rick Hester, acting assistant director of
Neighborhood Improvement Services.
The building's owner lives in Maryland and is aware of the order, Hester
Powers' office spearheads a statewide effort to clean up contamination
linked to old dry cleaning stores. It's working on the West Club site
and has found there "some pretty high levels of contamination" affecting
both soil and groundwater, Powers said.
The plume of underground chemicals measures about 350 feet long by 190
feet wide and stretches north across Club Boulevard into the parking lot
of Northgate Mall, he said.
Measured levels in groundwater clocked in at levels in the "tens of
thousands of parts per billion," which are high relative to the state
drinking water standard for the chemical of 0.7 parts per billion,
State regulators found and mapped the plume by doing a series of soil
borings and putting in monitoring wells.
The chemical appears to be moving slowly -- the dry cleaner that used to
occupy the site was last in business in 1974 -- but analysts are eager
to do "a little more investigation" on adjoining properties to the south
and east to see if it can be found there, Powers said.
The adjoining properties include another church -- the Triangle Family
Church on Watts Street -- and what Powers said were "at least three"
houses on the north end of Dollar Avenue.
"The primary risk is just on the source property," Powers said. "If we
find the contamination hasn't migrated [to the adjoining properties
south and east] that would close it off in that director and we feel
everybody else would be fine."
State officials have been in contact with the former occupants of the
building and the adjoining property owners, but have not gone beyond
that to notify the neighborhood. That's drawn criticism from an
environmental group, plus a posting by the group to at least one of
Durham's many activist e-mail lists.
"We feel this is a neighborhood issue that extends much further than
those property owners with land adjacent to the contaminated site," said
Sue Dayton, coordinator of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League's
N.C. Healthy Communities Project.
Dayton favors wider notification so residents can have a say in and
watch over any cleanup effort. "There's no question the state is going
to do the best they can to mitigate the site," she said. "However, there
are uncertainties involved here, especially when a plume of this
magnitude has to be cleaned up."
Powers said the state does in fact see to it that the site is cleaned
up, using a combination of techniques. Possibilities include digging up
the contaminated soil and injecting it with "agents that help break down
contaminants in the ground," he said.
Chemical cleanups in the past have also used pumps to extract
underground chemicals, but that method isn't as much in favor these days
because "it's been found a lot of contamination remains behind," he
Cleanups take awhile, and require at least a year of groundwater
monitoring. The state program is working with 219 sites, 11 of which
including the Club Boulevard site are in Durham.
The program began in 1997 but only has been going full speed since 2003,
Powers said. In the past couple of years it's graduated five sites with
lesser contaminations than the West Club Boulevard site's, and is poised
to finish with 10 more.
Dayton was responsible for the e-mail posting and said her group would
like to meet soon with city leaders, the Inter-Neighborhood Council, and
neighborhood groups in Trinity Park, Walltown and Trinity Heights to
discuss the problem.
Local real estate agent Ellen Dagenhart lives on Dollar Avenue a few
doors south of the affected area and said Friday that before Dayton sent
out her e-mail she'd known little about the matter.
"I had heard off and on over the years that there was contamination, but
had no idea that it was to the extent detailed in the letter," she said.
"It's scary to think about something like that."
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