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Buncombe Schools Contamination

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Published on Aug 8, 2012

Testing begins this week on Buncombe county schools central office property to see if it's still contaminated with TCE, an organic compound used in industrial applications that's known to cause cancer.  The property is a former Square -D facility, a company which also owned property across Bingham road that state environmental officials say is contaminated with hazardous waste.  The 128 Bingham road address and any other adjacent property contaminated are on the state's Inactive Hazardous Sites list.  The Department of Environmental and Natural Resources began looking into the contamination after school board member Lisa Baldwin notified them of plans to add a new school at the central office location.  Baldwin says records show the property may still be contaminated and needs to be checked  for possible air quality issues. The county purchased the Square D facility in 1989.  A short time later, it was learned test wells on the school property were contaminated with TCE.  DENR believes the old Square D plant and former neighboring Champion plant were the sources of the contamination which they say still exists.Schools superintendent Tony Baldwin says  the board has agreed to move forward with looking into the expense to do testing in the building.  DENR will be at the property on Wednesday to open a test well that was paved over by the school system in 2004, a well that apparently did no show signs  of contamination.  But state officials say the plume of contamination can move and may have spread closer to the central office building.  Tests as recent at July 30th from wells on the schools property  show unsafe drinking levels of TCE, according to DENR.  But school officials say no drinking wells are on the property which is serviced with city water.  They feel certain testing will show the school is safe. Follow Frank Fraboni on Twitter @Frabonz

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