HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It's hard to imagine anything menacing about the crisp, cool water rippling into Billy and Gloria O'Bannon's backyard pool. But Harris County says there's real cause for concern because the family's well has tested positive for the cancer-causing substance known as Dioxin.
"They are going to retest, so I'm praying and hoping it will come back clean," said Billy. He and Gloria labored much of their adult lives to build their dream home. They fear now that investment has plummeted in value because of a pollutant that somehow reached groundwater 350 feet beneath the surface.
"We can't afford to walk away from what we have," said Gloria.
But that's hardly their greatest concern. They reared a family here not far from the San Jacinto River -- drinking and cooking with water which may have contained microscopic particles of poison.
"I have a 22-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter -- is their future going to be impacted by this later on, you know?," asked Gloria. "Is my daughter going to be able to have children?" They even fear friends and family will shun the pleasant weekend oasis fearing an undetectable risk of exposure.
"Even though it looks nice, it's refreshing, you just have this phobia," said Billy. "What am I jumping into?"
For the O'Bannon family, it amounts to a torturous degree of uncertainty demanding solid answers and if necessary swift action from the government charged with their protection.
"Would they like to buy my house?," asked Billy. "Would they like to live out here and drink the water and swim in the pools? How would their life be if they were in our shoes?"
While the O'Bannon family live near the Superfund site known as the San Jacinto River Waste Pits, there's no proof the dump is the source of their well's contamination. Regardless, Gloria and Billy want it gone.
"It would probably be expensive, but can you really put a price on our lives and our health and our piece of mind?," said Gloria.