HOUSTON (FOX 26) - Since FOX 26 first revealed activists' fears about a completely unsecured federal superfund site, a metal fence has been installed at the Cypress location to keep passersby from stumbling into a toxic dump where the cancer causing chemical Tetrachloroethylene was poured onto the ground for more than a decade by a negligent, now defunct dry cleaning operation.
"A day after this aired, an iron gate went up and at least they have it now," said Pam Bonta with Texas Health & Environment Alliance.
Unlike hundreds of other Environmental Protection Agency clean-up sites, there is no signage here on Jones Road, no indication for the thousands of Houston area residents who drive past each day that the area remains contaminated.
Responding to an inquiry from FOX 26, the EPA said, “signage is not typically used on groundwater sites where contamination is many feet below the surface.”
Turns out, tests show the Tetrachloroethylne has reached the same groundwater feeding dozens of area wells while also emitting fumes which environmental advocates believe pose an on-going health risk to tenants and customers of Cypress Centre shopping mall.
"The fumes are just bad. I was sick from the time we were here the last time," said Becky Romano, a community activist.
As it installs extraction wells to literally suck the poisonous gases from the soil, the EPA claims the "current construction activities are not causing customers and workers at the shopping center to be exposed to harmful vapors.”
But activist Bonta believes the risk is real and more thorough testing a necessity.
"It's only fair to make them aware of the potential health hazards that are coming their way," said Bonta, who wants the EPA to condemn the property.
The EPA says the process of extracting the toxic vapors from the surrounding Cypress soil will take up to two years.