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Have you ever taken a close look at a glass of water and noticed something floating inside? Well, what if it was dangerous? In an in–depth report 'Grounded Concerns', News 5's Adam Lefkoe shows us a Grand Island community where the water is as cloudy as their health.
Just East of Grand Island lies a small community of just more than 60 homes.
"A nice place to live. A quiet peaceful place to live. But also right now a very scary place to live," said Rachel Evans.
Nearly 2 years ago, with no warning, neighbors received a knock at the door.
"Maybe it was the Health Department because we are all on well water. They did not say who they were or what it was for just that they wanted to test our water," said Evans.
They were testing for a chemical they had never heard of.
"I do not know, it is called Tetra something, but it is called PCE," said Janet Ewoldt.
One day later those testers returned.
"I was alarmed when the next day came bottled water. It was almost like immediately. So this is serious, very serious," Evans said.
"What is this? Is it a poison? What is it going to do to us?" said Ewoldt.
Weeks later residents received a letter. It explained that in the 70's and 80's the Nebraska Solvent Company released volatile organic compounds into the water.
"Just makes your skin crawl," said Evans.
The Maximum Level of PCE allowed is five parts per billion. Rachel Evans's test came back at almost double that.
"My Grandkids have taken showers. What have I done to them? What has this done to them?" said Evans.
When the Nebraska Solvent Company went bankrupt, Union Pacific Railroad assumed responsibility of the problem. They owned the land.
For a few months, they supplied residents with free bottles of Culligan water. It was used for everything.
"It was a pretty easy fix, but then they wanted to take the water away," said Ewoldt.
In came filtration systems. That did not ease concerns.
"It is a Band Aid - a very poor Band Aid," said Evans.
What is more concerning is a steady pattern of serious health problems in the area.
With dark clouds looming overhead and in the water why stay?
"It is not a financial option for me. We are still paying for our house. Look at the economy it is not an option," Ewoldt said.
"There are houses for sale that have not sold. And that is unbelievable because we have been out there 10 years, almost 11, and never had an issue with houses selling until now," said Evans.
In letters sent out to residents the Forrester Group that represents Union Pacific said the water is under control.
Residents worry. What about all the years before?
Neighbors said they feel victimized and helpless looking for somewhere to turn.
"Somebody pay attention. All we need is that one right person to say 'hey, I'm on board let's go. That is what we need'," said Evans.
Until then, the basis of life will remain the base of their fears.
Phone calls were made to the Forrester Group. They were left unreturned.
Rachel Evans has been in contact with attorneys. She even received advice from the actual Erin Brockovich. She said time will tell what her course of action will be.
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