For most people, home is their sanctuary, their place of comfort. So, when something comes along to impact that comfort, it’s a huge blow. That’s likely how the people of Davidson, North Carolina are feeling now that they’ve learned that many of their properties are contaminated with asbestos, left behind by Carolina Asbestos, which operated a factory in the town from 1930 to 1960.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality have been at the site of the factory, originally the Linden Cotton Mill, for several months now, but it was just reported last night that soil sampling at homes near the site revealed that 78 properties along three streets presented a concern, and at least 20 of them will require further action to make them safe again.
However, locals have been concerned about potential exposure for decades, notes a recent article in the Davidsonian, and this latest finding just adds insult to injury.
“In February 1984, the Mecklenburg County Department of Environmental Health was notified of potential asbestos contamination in the mill’s immediate vicinity and, upon testing the soil, determined that asbestos had been exposed since an earlier attempt to cover it,” the article pointed out. “By July of that year, the contaminated soil was covered again.”
But asbestos problems have persisted in this town, which knows all too well the dangers of exposure to the toxic mineral.
Evelyn Carr, 86, has lived in Davidson for her entire life and has seen the impact firsthand. Carr said “…my daddy died from it, my husband died from it. That whole lot up there ain’t nothing but asbestos.”
Many people that attended last night’s meeting, including the town’s mayor, John Woods, noted that they remember playing near the mill during their childhood at a spot that townspeople now call “asbestos hill.” Many have suffered ill health decades later, diagnosed with diseases such as asbestosis or mesothelioma.
The EPA has promised to continue sampling the yards of anyone who makes that request but has stressed to the town’s residents that the source site must be cleaned up by the owner.
Sadly, unless plans for redeveloping the mill property are presented, it is unlikely that it will be remediated, the EPA notes. If redevelopment plans do surface and are approved, then the state would demand remediation.
In the meantime, EPA workers will be a presence in the town until at least August, by which time all properties contaminated with asbestos should be cleaned up.