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Gaston County site added to Superfund cleanup list

Property near Gastonia where recycling of chemical drums contaminated groundwater has been added to the federal list of toxic-waste cleanup sites called Superfund.

The two parcels lie along Hemphill Road near the intersection of Forbes Road in the South Gastonia community, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

Residues from thousands of chemical drums were dumped onto the ground in the 1950s, the EPA says. Groundwater contaminated by a solvent, trichlorethene or TCE, was discovered in a nearby well in 1988.

The EPA says other wells on Hemphill Road and in the Kensington Estates and Wesley Acres communities are also contaminated. Kensington Estates was hooked to another community well. The EPA installed filter systems last year on three private wells.

Studies suggest that TCE can cause birth defects if mothers drink water contaminated by the solvent, says the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It’s unclear whether TCE in water can cause cancer, the agency says.

Cleanup of the site might be years away, the EPA says.

The EPA has listed 1,694 sites on Superfund’s National Priorities List since 1983. Cleanup remedies are in place at 68 percent of them and 38 percent of the sites are considered safe enough for reuse.

Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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