Investigators

Company agrees to plan to fix tainted water in Wake Forest

By WNCN Staff -

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - More than three years ago, families living in Wake Forest learned they were drinking water that had been contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals.

Now one of the companies involved has agreed to develop a plan to clean the groundwater that tainted the wells. Flextronics International USA used to have a circuit board assembly firm on Stony Hill Road, and chemicals from that firm spread to the drinking wells of about two dozen homes in the area.

Under the proposed consent order between Flextronics and the state, the company will clean up the contamination and provide an alternative source of drinking water to any homes whose wells might have been affected.

The Department of Environmental Quality helped draft the plan and has sent letters to those families affected Thursday. The families now have 30 days to respond to the draft.

In July 2012, Wake Forest families learned they had been drinking a cancer-causing chemical for years.

WNCN obtained internal government emails through a Freedom of Information request and revealed how the previous N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources administration knew about the contamination in 2005 but ignored their own evidence of the danger, allowing families to continue drinking the chemicals.

The investigation also revealed there are nearly 2,000 contamination sites across the state of North Carolina, where DENR knows there is TCE contaminating the ground. In a 2012 interview, DENR officials told WNCN the department did not have enough resources to warn families in harm's way.

Currently, federal and state laws govern the testing of public wells and water systems. However, there is no regulation over private wells.

As a result of WNCN's "Poison in the Water" investigation, Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law to prevent North Carolinians from drinking toxic chemicals.

The Private Well Water Education Act was sponsored by four Republican state representatives and passed both the state House and Senate unanimously before reaching McCrory.

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