Residents of Wake County trailer park concerned after well water contaminated by highly toxic chemical

Investigators

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) – Residents of a mobile home park near Knightdale have questions after being notified about the pollution of their water. Tests recently found a highly toxic chemical in their well.

Over the years, the well water at Shady Acres Home Park, which sits across Old Faison Road from Knightdale town limits, has had problems with contamination of the chemical ethylene dibromide. The most recent problem came up in Fall 2019.

Shady Acres gets its water from a public community water system and its well serves 115 people.

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In December, residents were mailed a notice that said their well water was contaminated with ethylene dibromide. The chemical is highly toxic. It was used as an additive in leaded gasoline, and as a soil and post-harvest fumigant for crops.

Its use as a crop fumigant was suspended in 1983 after the Environmental Protection Agency found traces of it in groundwater.

The warning letter worried resident Robert Jones.

“I really didn’t think anything of it, then I started to boil inside saying the water is polluted (and) they didn’t tells us,” Jones said.

Here’s a timeline of what happened, according to the Department of Environmental Quality:

  • September 2019: A water sample indicated levels of ethylene dibromide exceeded maximum levels.
  • Oct. 2, 2019: The system operator learned the well was contaminated and placed an order to replace the filter and other parts of the well system.
  • Oct. 7, 2019: The parts order was finalized.
  • Oct. 18, 2019: The parts were delivered.
  • Oct. 23, 2019: The replacement parts were installed.

According to regulations, the public should be notified no later than 30 days after the system learns of a violation. In this case, the letter didn’t go out until Dec. 26, 2019 — well after the system was deemed fixed.

“We didn’t get the option to drink clean bottled water or anything like that,” said Jones, who now uses bottled water for all of his cooking and drinking needs.

State records over the years indicate problems with ethylene dibromide in the well that date back to 1996. The state said steps were taken to filter out the chemical in those cases.

The trailer park’s management said it wasn’t interested in an on-camera interview. The company responsible for maintaining the well referred all questions to the state.

The public notice encouraged people with health concerns to see a doctor.

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“My doctor told me I took in more of the poison than a human can consume,’’ Jones claimed.

Now he wonders if all that exposure to the chemical over the years caused health problems.

“My fiancé got boils on her, rashes, thyroid problems,” he said. “I had stomach problems. I lost weight.”

As of now, the state said the water system is in compliance.

CBS 17 repeatedly asked the state why there was such a lag between discovering the contamination in the well and sending out public notifications.

The state also told CBS 17 it doesn’t know where the contamination to the well originated.

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