Leaders briefed on contamination

GREENVILLE — Dangerous levels of hazardous elements from a reported illegal dump site near Greenville have not yet been found in Lake Tawakoni.

Hunt County government leaders have turned testing of the location over to state environmental officials, who are keeping tabs on whether to construct a berm to prevent the substances from entering the water supply.

“The county has passed the lantern to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which will be doing much more extensive testing,” according to County Civil Attorney Daniel Ray, who also serves as the City of Greenville Attorney.

A self-storage company near the contamination site has notified its customers of the situation and is advising they take precautions when visiting the business.

Ray briefed the Greenville City Council and the Hunt County Commissioners Court Tuesday concerning metal levels on Lake Tawakoni.

“All we talked about was the danger to the water supply,” Ray said. “It doesn’t look right now that there needs to be a dam built at the site.”

The Hunt County Office of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency and the TCEQ, are investigating the contamination at the site on Interstate 30 southwest of Greenville as a criminal act.

Following original test results that indicated high levels of toxic elements like arsenic, cadmium and chromium at the original site, the joint task force ordered further testing at nearby water sources.

Four samples were taken and three of them show high levels of elements, including arsenic, that will require immediate clean-up.

Ray said the county has already spent approximately $20,000 on the testing, while the TCEQ plans to spend at least $100,000 on the tests.

“And it will likely be a lot more than that,” Ray said, adding there is no water stream that goes directly from the site into Lake Tawakoni. However, there is a “wet weather stream” which feeds into East Caddo Creek.

“East Caddo Creek also has these elements,” Ray said. “It is not enough right now to spend $10 million to build a dam.”

Ray said the names of the owner(s) of the contaminated property have not yet been made public by investigators.

Customers of Riteplace Storage, at 1909 Interstate Highway 30 West in Greenville, were issued a letter late last week, informing them of the contamination which was discovered in the soil at the back of the property.

Manager Darlene Tea said the business is cooperating with the investigation and supports the testing efforts.

“In an abundance of caution, for now, we are asking that you keep your children and/or pets from playing in or around any standing water on the property — just until we received clearance from the county officials that everything is okay,” Tea wrote.

Local officials pulled more than 100 dead fish from a pond approximately a quarter of a mile away from the dump site Wednesday. According to the Director of the Hunt County Office of Homeland Security Richard Hill, there is no proof yet that the illegal dumping is the source of the dead fish, but one of the fish was sent off for testing. - See more at: http://www.heraldbanner.com/topnews/x1396869251/Leaders-briefed-on-contamination#sthash.2D6GBQb7.dpuf