Help Is on the Way for 4 NC Superfund Sites

The EPA announced it would use federal infrastructure dollars to clean up toxic industrial sites that have gone years without being addressed.

By Michael McElroy

February 14, 2022

The EPA will use federal Infrastructure funds to clean up four areas in the state contaminated by industrial pollutants.

Federal infrastructure money will soon help four North Carolina communities “reclaim” land long ago poisoned by industrial pollutants, federal environmental officials say.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced in December that it would spend $1 billion from the infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year to restart 49 national cleanup plans, known as Superfund sites. The cleanup plans for the contaminated sites had been on hold for years because of lack of funding. 

The North Carolina sites are in Jacksonville, Gastonia, Yadkinville and Charlotte. 

Many of these polluted areas, as is so often the case, are in communities of color. 

“This work is just the beginning,” Michael S. Regan, the EPA director and Goldsboro native, said in a press release. (Regan served as NC’s top environmental official for three years before joining the Biden Administration.)

One in four Black and Latino residents live within three miles of a Superfund site, he said. 

“Communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination will finally get the protections they deserve,” he said.

Here’s the location of North Carolina sites: 

ABC One Hour Cleaners in Jacksonville: This dry cleaners, about two miles from Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base and nearby Marine housing, was found in 1989 to be releasing toxic dry cleaning chemicals into soil and groundwater. The dry cleaning building has been demolished, but without action the contaminants, and the threat they pose, would remain for thousands of years.

Hemphill Road, TCE, Gastonia:

This former site for recycling chemical drums dumped all sorts of harmful substances into the soil in the 1950s, and then produced further contamination when they burned the drums. Trichloroethylene (TCE), which can cause kidney cancer and damage the central nervous system, was found in residential wells in the area. 

Holcomb Creosote Co., Yadkinville:

A wood-treating facility run by the Holcomb Creosote Company from the 1950s to 2009 had several environmental violations that led to hazardous waste contaminated  soil, sediment and groundwater. .

Ram Leather Care Site, Charlotte:

Mishandled waste from this leather restoration and dry-cleaning facility in Charlotte contaminated soil and groundwater. 

And while the site itself is currently a threat to workers at the site, the EPA says, nearby public water lines could be affected. 


  • Michael McElroy

    Michael McElroy is Cardinal & Pine's political correspondent. He is an adjunct instructor at UNC-Chapel Hill's Hussman School of Journalism and Media, and a former editor at The New York Times.

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