Unused well contaminated in Louisa

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

LOUISA, VA (WWBT) - An unused well in Louisa is contaminated with potentially harmful chemicals. Environmental authorities are trying to figure out source of the contamination.

This well hasn't been used in twenty years but local authorities had considered reopening it before the contamination was found.

Environmental authorities are now testing other nearby wells to see who else could be affected.

The well is off Jefferson Highway and tests came back showing high levels of tetrachloroethylene, more commonly known as "perc". People in Louisa like Josie Folkins say something like this is alarming.

"If there's something out there that's going to give me a boost in the wrong direction or catch something that's going to kill me, I have to pay attention," she said. "I have to be a concerned citizen."

Some Louisa residents are concerned because environmental authorities don't know where the contamination is coming from.

Perc has not been found in the town's water system but high levels of the chemical were found in the well water in two nearby homes. Some Louisa residents like Roy Holland wonder how much farther the contamination might spread.

"We all should be concerned," he said. "Even people like myself that have a well. You go down to the aquifer and the groundwater is contaminated, then it doesn't matter if it's coming from the city or a private well, then it's still contaminated."

"It's something they need to look into and not just shrug aside and say, 'well it's just two people'," Folkins said. "Well two people could turn into 200,000 people."

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Virginia Department of Health are now testing residential wells to see how many others could be affected.

The effects of being exposed to perc vary depending on how long you've been in contact with it, but it has been known to cause nausea, dizziness, headaches, unconsciousness and even death.

Authorities do not believe someone has been dumping the chemical into the well since it's been closed off.

Investigators are focusing on any businesses in the area from the last two decades that could be the source of the contamination.

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