HOUSTON (FOX 26) - With no signage and no serious fencing, passersby on busy Jones Road would never have a clue that an unsecured EPA Super Fund Site is just a few yards away.
"You walk on the property and you just smell the gas. You feel it in your body and it just makes you sick," said Becky Romano, an environmental advocate.
Here's the ugly facts:
From 1988 to 2002 a negligent, now bankrupt, dry cleaning operation dumped huge quantities of the chemical Tetrachloroethylene onto the ground behind the business, on the corner of a strip mall.
Over time, the toxin, linked to multiple cancers and other life threatening diseases, reached groundwater.
In 2008 the EPA launched a clean-up effort which environmental advocate Pamela Bonta insists has neither reversed the threat or the on-going damage to humans.
"We are seeing a lot of cancer and illness. We requested that they (the EPA) revisit this. We demanded that they get it cleaned up because people are dying, bottom-line," said Bonta who works with the Texas Health and Environment Alliance.
To mitigate the ongoing threat EPA is installing a soil vapor extraction system - which will suck toxic gas out of the ground.
In the meantime, it's business as usual at the Cypress Centre, the strip mall adjacent to the Super Fund Site where vendors and customers work and shop within yards of the uncontained contamination.
"I am extremely concerned there are businesses on top of a Super Fund Site and there are children that run around the parking lot literally right at ground zero," said Jackie Young, leader of THEA.
While EPA has yet to comment for this story the agency has told residents it will require two more years to render the site safe.