State and local officials are investigating the release of a likely human carcinogen in the Cape Fear River Basin. The source of the contaminant has been linked to a company in the Triad.

Greensboro water officials say they made the discovery of the chemical 1,4 dioxane during monthly sampling and notified the state Department of Environmental Quality about the contaminant spike in September.

The EPA's health advisory level for the chemical in drinking water is 0.35 parts per billion. On August 7, the city measured a level of more than 2,700 times that number at its wastewater treatment plant.

The city says Shamrock Environmental Corporation is the source.

Other communities downstream, including Pittsboro and Fayetteville, also detected elevated levels of the chemical.

Michael Borchers is with the city's water resources department. He says current testing shows levels are back to a normal low range, but there's still a lot they don't know.

“Now the question is working with the state, working with the industry to figure out what exactly went wrong and when it went wrong as it relates to their source control process and then, of course, what measures can we put in place to prevent this from happening again,” says Borchers.

Shamrock Environmental released a statement saying that in August it treated and discharged more than 15,000 gallons of non-hazardous wastewater from a customer that did not report it contained the chemical. The company says it was proactive and didn't violate any federal, state, or local water quality regulations.

The company adds, “We will continue to work with our customers, City of Greensboro, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and other regulatory bodies to ensure we meet the highest standards in our industry.” 

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality says it has initiated weekly testing at Greensboro's wastewater treatment plant.

Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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