10/08/06 — Apex chemical fire not expected to affect Wayne drinking water

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Apex chemical fire not expected to affect Wayne drinking water

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 8, 2006 2:07 AM


News-Argus Staff Writer

City Manager Joe Huffman said Saturday that some recent news reports questioning the safety of Goldsboro's water supply were false.

The reports suggested heavy rains in Apex might have washed chemicals from a fire at a hazardous materials plant into waterways that lead to the city -- via surface water from the plant's property that might have made its way into Middle Creek. That connects to Sunset Lake, and then to Swift Creek before ultimately emptying into the Neuse River near Smithfield.

"I understand WRAL had a story last night that said our water wasn't any good," Huffman said. "They made a mistake. They had a false report ... they were talking about the concerns of Apex and how that might affect stormwater. And they talked about any problems wouldn't be realized for a few days in places like Goldsboro, and then they got like 500 calls to 911 in 30 minutes. So, it turned up all being for nothing. There is no problem. Our water's good. Drink up."

He added that on Friday, after looking at reports out of Apex, he contacted city and Wayne County staff and asked that they look into the possibility that contamination of the water supply might occur.

Officials from the Department of Water Quality ensured those officials that there were no problems.

"I have no evidence that chemicals got into that watershed," Huffman said. "As far as I know, we're in good shape."

Still, there is always a slim chance that the scenario will change for the worse, he said. And so, the city has a plan in place to protect its citizens should chemicals appear in Neuse River tributaries upstream.

Should officials detect the presence of harmful chemicals in the water supply, Goldsboro would cut off intake from the Neuse and use water from the Little River and reservoirs until the problem is resolved, Huffman said.

"We wanted to make sure we asked the questions that others hadn't raised yet," he said. "Our goal is to make sure our citizens are protected. And there is certainly no danger."