Officials at North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources knew drinking water near Wake Forest had been contaminated seven years ago. But they neglected to tell anyone.
That only changed this summer, when officials with the Environmental Protection Agency called residents in the Stony Hill Road area and informed them their water may contain Trichloroethylene (TCE), a highly carcinogenic chemical. As such, reports WNCN, officials told residents they shouldn't drink, cook, or even bathe in their water.
The situation outraged residents, who felt their health had taken a back seat to bureaucracy.
"I'm furious," homeowner Mark Stonefield said to WNCN. "I'm very upset about it. That’s the biggest problem I’ve had with this whole situation is the state knew about it in 2005. We bought this land in 2007 and built a house on it in 2008 and our kids have been drinking the water for over 4 years now and no one notified us there was even the possibility that the water could be contaminated."
Manufacturers typically use TCE to remove grease from machinery. According to the EPA, the colorless chemical is water soluble and has been known to cause cancer and liver damage.
Defending the state's inaction, Cathy Akroyd, a worker at DENR's Division of Waste Management, said they located one contaminated water source in 2005 and believed that was the extent of the pollution.
According to the Daily Mail, authorities have traced the source of the TCE back to a shed in Stony Hill. Circuit boards were cleaned with the chemical, then the toxin was dumped straight into the ground. The TCE first contaminated the well next door.
"We came out and sampled several wells in the area, and that one original well was the only one impacted," she said to WRAL. "So, it was thought at that time that was pretty much the end of that story."
In light of the extensive contamination, however, the state has agreed to conduct further tests. Additionally, the EPA has funded an extension of nearby community water systems, which will be provided to several homes with the highest TCE levels.
WATCH a more extensive report on the contamination [via WNCN]: