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Recycling Facility Sits On Contaminated Ground

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by Ben Hall
Investigative Reporter

LYLES, Tenn. - The plastics recycling facility that caught on fire Wednesday in Hickman County sits on land with a long and troubled history.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has spent millions of dollars trying to clean up polluted soil and groundwater at the location.

The EPA put the area on its Superfund list in 1989, which is a federal program to clean up hazardous areas.

When NewsChannel 5 Investigates flew over the site in 2008, it was covered with plastics from the recycling facility.

The tall smoke stack at the center of location is no longer active, but is a reminder of the charcoal plant that used to operate there.

Pictures from the 1940s show an active industrial facility that produced charcoal, iron -- and material for the U.S. military.

Now the old plant is closed, and the recycling facility operates on just part of the property.

The environmental problems are underground, where toxic waste from the old plant contaminated nearby water and soil.

Back in 2008, Bill Goodreau told us he got sick from living near the site.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "You think you got sick from drinking the water?"

Goodreau responded, "Right."

Doctors found high levels of arsenic, mercury and manganese in his system.

EPA tests reveal all of those at the site.

The EPA has spent millions cleaning up the site, and says it is safe to live near there.

"Based on all the data we've collected to date, current conditions, it is safe to live near that site," Loften Carr said in 2008, when he oversaw clean-up at the location.

But in 1988, the EPA identified the area as an "eminent and substantial danger."

After nearly 25 years, it is still not fully cleaned up.

"It's not a simple site to clean-up.  It's very complicated terrain," Carr said.

Aside from the environmental problems, the state has issued several notices to the recycling facility for how it operated.

Wednesday's fire is another problem for a site with a long and troubled history.

Email: bhall@newschannel5.com

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