Charlotte, N.C – The Mecklenburg County Health Department is warning residents to stay out of parts of Little Sugar Creek in North Charlotte.
Two dangerous chemicals, that could cause cancer and organ damage with steady exposure, have been found in part of Little Sugar Creek.
“That in and of itself is scary,” said Dietrich Brown, who visits the Little Sugar Creek greenway at least three times a week.
Water samples tested show high levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) in shallow and deep groundwater that’s seeping into the creek. They’re common industrial solvents and have made the creek water three to eight times worse than state water standards.
Brown said, “I think that’s unfortunate and I hope the county is serious about trying to identify who might be the source, or what might be the source.”
Right now, multiple agencies are trying to find where the chemicals came from. They believe they’re from old industrial activity in the area.
Lisa Corbitt, with the county’s environmental health department, said, “They do have many people working on this but because it’s such an industrial area, they haven’t pinpointed [the source.]”
County water managers don’t know how long they will ask people to stay out of the creek between 36thStreet and North Brevard but have posted signs warning people not to drink the water, fish in it, nor swim or bathe in it.
“Human contact with these waters is very minimal. So this is not a situation where we suspect people will be getting sick, but we want people to know,” said Rusty Rozzelle, the county’s water quality manager.
As of now, there’s also no evidence the polluted water is hurting fish or wildlife.
The cleanup is being handled by the Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina hazardous waste section. There’s no estimated cost of cleanup.. nor a timeline of how long it will take.