State delays chemical cleanup at former BB&T bank to July 11 | News

State delays chemical cleanup at former BB&T bank to July 11

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This site of a former dry cleaner on Club Boulevard later housed a church. Durham officials condemned the building due to chemical contamination.
  • File photo by Jeremy M. Lange
  • This site of a former dry cleaner on Club Boulevard later housed a church. Durham officials condemned the building due to chemical contamination.

Due to a scheduling conflict with a contractor, officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources say they have delayed the demolition of a building at 1103 W. Club Blvd., by a week.

The building, across from Northgate Mall, used to house a dry cleaning service and a BB&T bank branch. Tests over the past several years show that toxic dry cleaning chemicals once stored and used there have leached into the soil, groundwater, and even the air beneath homes and other buildings on adjacent streets, including Watts Street and Dollar Avenue.

The chemical, still used by many dry cleaners today, is called tetracholoroethylene, perchloroethylene or perc, and is a documented carcinogen.

State contractors were supposed to begin the first step to cleaning the site Tuesday, removing asbestos in the building before demolishing it to get to the source of the chemical contamination. Those plans have been delayed due to a scheduling conflict with the contractor, and now will begin next Monday, July 11, said Billy Meyer, a DENR project manager. Contractors are scheduled to put up a security fence next week, remove the asbestos and submit a report to Durham city representatives on July 15. Demolition is scheduled to begin July 18.

While planning the demolition, DENR held a public meeting for residents in March, at which representatives explained how they would monitor air quality during the process. In March, officials with the Durham Area Transit Authority said it would place signs at a bus stop on West Club Boulevard right next to the contaminated site that they were in no immediate danger, but could use other nearby bus stops if they chose to.

After the building is demolished, representatives from DENR will begin working with contractors to determine where the chemicals are concentrated, and removing them could call for possible excavation, Meyer said. Public input will be sought on the clean-up plans around October. See a web page dedicated to the BB&T site clean up for more information.

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