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Published on: 2003-11-10

Mother Nature has key role in cleanup

ABERDEEN - The groundwater beneath the Aberdeen pesticide dumps will be cleaned through a natural filtration process that could take 20 to 50 years.

Federal environmental officials said the soil is now clean, but harmful chemicals remain in the groundwater - including lindane, a potential carcinogen.

Because of the size of the sites, pumping the water out and treating it manually would take as long as natural filtration, officials said.

"The process is to allow Mother Nature to take its course," said John Bornholm, the Environmental Protection Agency project manager for the dumps.


Superfund sites

The five dumps are among 1,200 sites on the EPA's list of Superfund toxic-waste sites.

Located within 2 miles of each other off N.C. 5, the sites were receptacles for DDT and other pesticides dumped by the old Farm Chemical pesticide distribution plant beginning in the 1930s.

The Aberdeen dumps were discovered in the 1980s and placed on the Superfund registry in 1989. They have been called the worst hazardous-waste site in the state.

A consortium of companies cleaned the soil between 1997 and 1999. Detoxifying the groundwater is not as easy or as fast.

Randy McElveen, who monitors the Aberdeen sites for the Superfund section of the N.C. Division of Waste Management, said the soil cleanup has helped stem groundwater contamination in the area. He said the planting of more than 2,000 trees in 1998 to serve as a natural water pump and filter has also helped.

He said no high concentrations of contaminants have been detected in the water table since the soil cleanup.

Harry Huberth, president of Moore For a Clean Environment Inc., said he is pleased with the progress of the cleanup.

"I have no concern with the sites that were treated," he said. "Our only concern is that due to the nature of the business, there are probably some other undisclosed sites that we'll have to deal with in the future."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Staff writer Michael Wagner can be reached at or 486-3571.

Copyright 2003 The Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer (



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