By Taylor Sisk
CARRBORO â€“ The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will hold a public meeting on April 28 at 7 p.m. in the Carrboro Town Hall boardroom. The meetingâ€™s purpose is to provide information on the results of air sampling taken on three residences and two businesses in the immediate vicinity of a now-defunct dry-cleaning business that is believed to have dumped, in the early 1970s, a potential cancer-causing chemical.
The business, MEM One-Hour Martinizing, operated at 408 W. Weaver St., near the intersection of Main and Weaver streets, where Summerwinds Pools & Spas is now located. DENRâ€™s investigation began after the discovery of traces of perchloroethylene, or PERC, in the vicinity. PERC is a colorless, nonflammable liquid commonly used in the dry-cleaning industry.
The chemical is easily vaporized and can then migrate into buildings. One home on nearby Elm Street was found to have unacceptable vapor levels of the substance, and DENR officials said the department was taking steps to counteract any health risks that might result from those levels.
According to DENR, no dangerous levels were found at the other residences and the businesses where air samples were taken.
DENR discovered evidence of PERC at the CITGO station at the corner of Main and Weaver streets in 2009 and traced it back to the former dry-cleaning location. At the time the business was in operation, such chemicals were commonly disposed of with little or no knowledge of the health risks they posed.
DENRâ€™s Division of Waste Managementâ€™s Dry-Cleaning Solvent Cleanup Act program (DSCA), the lead agency in the investigation and cleanup of the site, will conduct the public meeting.
DENR officials say that the elevated levels of PERC found at the Elm Street residence warranted a second round of testing in the vicinity, which has now been completed. DENR reports that the homes and businesses showed either no contaminants or had â€œconcentrations considered well within acceptable levels for human health.â€
DSCA will install a vapor-mitigation system at the Elm Street home. An opening will be drilled through a concrete floor and a fan with a blower will vent the air through a pipe installed in the roof.
Indoor air testing is planned in an adjacent vacant house.
Officials said last week that they also would be collecting underground soil gas and groundwater data at six non-residential properties in the immediate vicinity. The department has been conducting statewide testing for PERC and similar contaminants.
The investigation at 408 W. Weaver St. began in December 2009, when the property owner voluntarily entered the DSCA program. Work began in February 2010 and an initial report was completed in October.