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On Your Side investigation: Chemicals found in groundwater in Ascension neighborhood

5 years 2 months 2 days ago Wednesday, May 15 2019 May 15, 2019 May 15, 2019 12:09 PM May 15, 2019 in News
Source: WBRZ

PRAIRIEVILLE - The Department of Environmental Quality says it's monitoring chemicals, tied to a decades-old dumping, that was found in an Ascension Parish neighborhood.

The department has been monitoring the neighborhood on Tiger Heights Road after drums of chemicals were found buried in the early 80s. DEQ says equipment detected solvents in shallow groundwater in the area, and more monitoring wells are being set up to determine the extent of the contamination.

Residents say a crew has been in the neighborhood since Monday installing wells and collecting samples. Margie Noble tells 2 On Your Side she thought she was done with this years ago and fears the worst.

"It's haunting, to say the least," said Noble. "Are we all living in a chemical waste site?"

Noble says it's the fifth time in two years she's seen DEQ on her quiet street. A half dozen drums labeled with "non-hazardous waste" tags on them sit at the end of her street. They're full of soil and other labeled contents from the area.

In 1985, a construction project uncovered five or six deteriorated drums underground. The Environmental Protection Agency cleaned the site, secured it, and installed a permanent monitoring well. The well is checked periodically and a few years ago, DEQ says it got back some positive samples.

"There were some chlorinated solvents that were found," said Environmental Scientist Tommy Doran.

DEQ also received a complaint in January 2019 from a resident on the next street over. That complainant is concerned about chemicals from the found drums migrating to his property and reported dead vegetation and water discoloration.

It's not clear who dumped the drums in the first place and DEQ can't say for sure what type of chlorinated solvents they've recently found.

"Some of the chlorinates are associated with being carcinogenic," said Doran.

While they await the test results, residents like Doran say their concern hasn't changed since the drums were first found decades ago.

"I haven't drank water here since '85," said Noble.

DEQ says it's recently tested the drinking water and the water has been deemed safe to drink. No chemicals have been found in the drinking aquifer at this time.

Officials expect the test results to come back in a month.

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