Wednesday, January 5, 2011

EPA conducting arsenic, lead cleanup in Blacksburg

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 11:59 AM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has discovered yet another contaminated old factory site. This one is in Blacksburg, S.C., which is a small town about 45 minutes from Uptown, just off I-85 between Shelby, N.C., and Gaffney, S.C.

From News Channel 7:

The letter was sent to some property owners to notify them of a public meeting regarding the cleanup of the former Virginia Carolina Chemical Company's fertilizer plant, which opened in the late 1890's and closed around 1950. In the 1960's, Mobil Oil (now Exxon Mobil) bought VCCC and inherited the property. According to the letter, the former site encompasses 66 acres off North Shelby Street. Several homes, including Martin's, now rest on that property.

The letter states, "Exxon Mobil...peformed a site investigation and will conduct soil removal and restoration activities on an approximately six acre portion of the former site where levles of lead and arsenic in the soil were found to be above EPA action thresholds."

Arsenic and lead are both used in the production of fertilizer and pesticides and are toxic to humans, even fatal if exposure occurs in large doses or over long periods of time.

After seeing the letter, Martin says she remembered seeing EPA personnel collecting samples across from her home about three years ago.

"They told me they were just taking some soil samples and it was no big deal," says Martin who now begs to differ with that assessment.

Read the entire article, by Chris Cato, here.

I wager that this contamination is a big deal — or the EPA wouldn't be working with the land's current owners to dig the contaminated soil out of the ground and sending letters to local residents. Arsenic and lead, of course, can both lead to a litany of health problems (such as cancer).

With that in mind, Reuters has an article out on a few foods that scientists believe may help people reduce the damage arsenic can cause. They include mostly root vegetables, like sweet potatoes and radishes. Read more here.

Here's a video about lead poisoning:

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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