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DHEC reassures neighbors of contaminated York work site

YORK -- Despite reassurances from environmental control officials, neighbors of a contaminated industrial site in York are worried about the safety of their well water and families' health.

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control talked about the contamination at the former Metals Protection Co. and addressed concerns Tuesday night during a community meeting at Hunter Street Elementary School.

Both deep and shallow groundwater have been contaminated, as well as soil under the building, DHEC project manager Angie Jones said

But nearby residential wells have never detected any site-related contamination, she told the group.

DHEC called the meeting to discuss the clean-up of hazardous chromium, which is isolated to the former industry's property, now owned by SPX. The contamination happened because of leftover rinse water that was used on metal after it was put through chromic acid plating tanks by MPC in the early 1950s. The site has not been used for any industrial operations since early 2004.

Hexavalent chromium is toxic if orally ingested or inhaled. It is a carcinogen, and chronic exposure to it can cause permanent eye injury, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Web site.

About 100 neighbors of the plant at 6347 Campbell Road turned out for Tuesday's meeting. Many feared neighboring wells could become contaminated, their land may depreciate in value and families will be exposed to hazardous material.

DHEC proposed that the soil under the building be left with a deed restriction saying it can never be redeveloped. The restriction also would require that the existing flooring, which prevents infiltration from runoff, be left intact.

To deal with the contaminated groundwater, DHEC recommended that both shallow and deep groundwater be treated by injecting a chemical into the saprolite and fractured bedrock to neutralize the chromium. DHEC also recommended a contingency plan that would provide city water service to the area should residential wells ever become contaminated.

Many residents said DHEC should have informed them sooner about the contamination, especially because testing has been conducted since 1997.

Jones said wells neighboring the site have been tested quarterly and have never showed any indication that the contamination spread. It has taken until now to complete the tests and come up with proper solutions, she said.

Some neighbors want their wells tested anyway.

"They kind of have an idea where the water is flowing, but they can't really know for sure," said Joel Ferraro, who lives about a half-mile from the contaminated site.

Whether DHEC pays for it, Tony Resino said he also wants to get his water tested.

"I want to make sure that my family is protected," he said.

He's also worried about what the news of the contamination will do to the value of his house.

"I just moved here and bought my dream home, and now I'm scared that my property value's going down," Resino said.

Many neighbors also said the soil under the building should be taken out.

Jones said DHEC will take all the recommendations into consideration before making a final clean-up decision on the site.

The public has until March 7 to provide written comments to DHEC project manager Angie Jones at 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC 29206.

To read DHEC's proposed clean-up plan, visit

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