Confirmed: Chemicals found in groundwater in Ascension neighborhood
PRAIRIEVILLE - A dumping site in Ascension Parish thought to have been cleaned up years ago is still contaminated.
The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has been monitoring the area at the end of Tiger Heights Road for years. Months ago it was called out to the area to perform more testing after equipment detected solvents in shallow groundwater. DEQ took samples and the results of those samples are now available for viewing in a 360-page document.
"It does reconfirm that we have soil contamination and groundwater contamination," said Environmental Scientist Tommy Doran.
The groundwater contamination is anywhere from 16-24 feet below the surface and packed between stiff clay. Doran calls that contamination a group of volatile organic compounds that are chlorinated and has some toxicity involved.
Several deteriorated drums were found at the location in 1985. The Environmental Protection Agency cleaned it up and secured the area, but it turns out it wasn't as thorough as first thought.
"They thought they got it all in the 80s when they did the source removal, apparently they didn't," said Doran.
DEQ also performed an electromagnetic survey fearing the EPA missed some sources of contamination (drums) decades ago when it performed the source removal and did confirm a magnetic anomaly. The state says it plans to investigate that anomaly further to see if it is a contamination source and have it removed and properly disposed of.
While the groundwater and soil have tested positive for contamination, Doran says the drinking water, which comes from a well about 300 feet below the surface, is safe to drink. It was last tested in 2014 and DEQ found no contamination in the drinking water.
That hasn't stopped people from worrying.
"I haven't drank water here since '85," said Margie Noble.
The state agrees it's a bit unsettling. Doran told 2 On Your Side that people "should be concerned because nobody wants that in their backyard."
That's why there are plans to take more steps to learn about what needs to be done to clean the area, which requires obtaining more specific data. DEQ will also continue periodic groundwater monitoring.
DEQ says it plans to notify residents in the area about its findings and educate them about what it means and what it plans to do in the future.