The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to add areas near the Fayette County town of Minden to its list of the most serious hazardous waste sites in the country.
In a news release Tuesday, the agency said it has determined the Shaffer Equipment site, as well as parts of nearby Arbuckle Creek, should be added to the Superfund National Priorities List.
"Today, we are proposing to add the Shaffer Equipment/Arbuckle Creek Area Site in Minden to the National Priorities List," said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Cosmo Servidio, in the press release. "This is part of EPA’s continuing effort to conduct a thorough study to evaluate the contamination issues in the community and develop a remediation plan that will protect human health and the environment."
In the 1980s, the EPA found that a local company was responsible for contaminating the town’s soil with a harmful chemical called polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs. The agency spent millions of dollars on a cleanup, which included removing more than 5,000 tons of contaminated soil.
Residents have been concerned PCB contamination is ongoing and leading to high rates of cancer. They asked the EPA for additional testing and for financial help for additional cleanups.
Lawmakers, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Gov. Jim Justice (R), have written to the EPA urging the agency to place Minden on the Superfund National Priorities List.
In a statement, Justice, who sent a formal letter to EPA last month, praised the agency for taking this step.
"After several decades we have now gotten to the point where this is finally getting addressed," he said. "It has always been my intent to make sure that this be done for the citizens of Minden."
EPA says it found elevated levels of PCBs in sediments taken from Arbuckle Creek up to one mile downstream from Minden. The creek often floods the community, which the EPA says has spread the PCB contamination.
By placing the Minden area on the Superfund National Priorities List, the site would be eligible for long-term cleanup paid for by the federal government.
EPA will accept public comments on the proposed listing for 60 days, beginning Sept. 13.