9 Investigates: Neighbors concerned about contamination in water

by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:


HENRY'S KNOB, S.C. - Some local neighbors are afraid their families are in danger from contaminated water.

They said they've been dealing with the problem for years.

The EPA is investigating well water contamination in the Henry's Knob area, around Highway 55 near Clover.

Ashley Stewart said her water is a constant worry. She showed Eyewitness News where she said her well water ate through her faucet.

“If it's damaging metals like stainless steel and aluminum, then it's got to be causing bodily harm,” Stewart said.

The EPA has confirmed contamination in Stewart's well water. She showed Eyewitness News 2008 test results.

She can't drink the water, and neither can her neighbor, Georga Linkus-Long, who also has a well.

“I don't want my health getting any worse,” Linkus-Long said.

The EPA began testing the area in 2004. The 185-acre Henry's Knob site used to house a kyanite mine more than 30 years ago.

Kyanite is a mineral used to create bricks and tile.  

The EPA said the mining caused wells on 47 parcels of land to become contaminated with hazardous levels of manganese and cobalt, which the agency says can cause neurological problems.

Stewart suspects the water is responsible for her skin problems.

“It's just skin irritations that come and go,” she said. “It's usually in this area and this area."

Linkus-Long is even nervous to take a bath.

“Hygiene becomes an issue because you're afraid of the water,” she said.

Both women depend on large containers of bottled water for drinking and cooking.

Eyewitness News was there in June when the EPA met with residents about possible solutions.

Now, four months later, Eyewitness News contacted them for answers.

“We're trying our best to find a permanent solution to this problem, and we realize that their water is not healthy,” said Beverly Stepter with the EPA.

Stepter and Eyewitness News anchor Natalie Pasquarella walked to the spot her agency believes is the source of the contamination.

“This is the pit quarry here, and the kyanite was actually mined here,” Stepter said.

She said a company called ABB has taken responsibility for the contamination, and will pay for the fix because it had purchased a company that once mined the site.

Stepter said the best solution is to hook up a water line to Clover so residents get city water.

But the women Eyewitness News spoke to said they can't afford that.

“Some people have over 100 acres, do you see their concern?” Pasquarella asked.

“I understand that, but the water here is not healthy, therefore we're trying to provide an alternate source for drinking water,” Stepter said.

When Eyewitness News asked why it's taken so long, Stepter said the process is extensive.

But if the water line goes as planned, it could be done in 18 months.

For the neighbors, the question now is what's next?

 “Some may say, why not move?” Pasquarella asked.

“We could not sell our property at all and we could not afford to purchase something else, and this was what we wanted to retire on,” Linkus-Long said.

ABB has been providing the free bottled water to residents with high levels of metals. 

Monday afternoon, Eyewitness News received a statement from ABB Inc. which read:

“We have met with the residents at the 24 homes affected, and we are pleased to say that we have a good relationship with nearly all these homeowners. While we share their frustration for how long these federal cleanup programs take, we've been told that the EPA will be contacting people very soon to announce EPA's preferred corrective action.  We thank the community for their patience and willingness to work with us, and we look forward to working with them on the corrective action for the ground water.  While wells at only 6 homes were above EPA's standards, we will offer corrective action to all 24 homes which are all located within about a half mile of the knob.”

If you’d like to read more about the Henry’s Knob Site, click here.

Here is another website with information to Henry’s Knob developed by ABB and EPA: http://www.henrysknobenvironmentalforum.com/faq