Asbestos Found in Lufkin's Water Supply

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - After some Crown Colony residents were having what they feel to be, invasive work done in their yards, KTRE discovered that pipes were being replaced because of asbestos being passed through the water lines.

Back in 1999 the City of Lufkin tested the water supply and found traces of asbestos. In 2001 , the city was awarded a 16 million dollar grant that has allowed them to replace water lines and pumps, getting rid of the old pipes that contaminated the water. However, City of Lufkin Public Director of Engineering, Chuck Walker, says that asbestos in the water isn't as scary as it sounds.

"As far as it being a health issue...that wasn't it. It's just a term. When you say asbestos, it just has a negative connotation", says Walker.

In fact, it's when you breathe in the asbestos that health problems like cancer can occur, but water actually breaks up the asbestos, making it harmless to drink. Just the same, city workers have gone on with 14 projects just to reassure Lufkin residents that their water is safe.

The last project, however, has some Crown Colony residents upset about the damage done to their yards. But walker says, the city has tried to cause as little damage to personal property as possible. "We'd start in maybe one person's yard and then 500/600 feet later we'd pop up. So we we're able to miss "x" number of houses so we didn't damage all their yards".

For the residents that have been affected by the asbestos removal project, the city is going to mend what they've broken. Walker reassuringly told KTRE that "it's a city policy that if the city comes in and does any work, have to fix a leak or any damage to your yard, we have to replace it to as good if not better".

The city plans to be through with the water line project by the end of january. In the mean time, contractors will spend all of next week cleaning up the mess they've left in yards and getting the equipment out of the area just in time for Christmas.

As of today, all but four of the pipes and pumps that transported asbestos through the water have been replaced. Those last four are on on Walden Court in Crown Colony. The money left over from the grant will be used for other projects, including making repairs to water tanks.