Toxic Dumpsite Investigation Points To Electric Companies

"Individuals don't produce these, these came from a commercial company," says Smith County Precinct 3 Constable Danny Smith holding a transmitter in his hands.

Smith combed through the rummage including piles of high line wire, transformers and old meters.

He says, they've been able to link them to electric companies in East Texas.

"One in Kilgore, one in Jacksonville, one in Mineola and one in Tyler," says Smith.

One of those companies he says is TXU. Authorities saying it was dumped between 1991 and 1996.

But a TXU electric delivery spokesman says they've received no evidence these materials belong to them.

The privately-owned land belonged to Chester Arterberry who's now deceased. Authorities say he made his living as a "junk man."

"Sure [Arterberry] is at fault. But what concerns me is that major power companies know they're supposed to dump this stuff in an environmentally protected area," says Smith who is ultimately putting the responsibility on the electric companies.

The concern now: tests performed by TCEQ show lead levels 200 times higher than acceptable.

"The norm is 0.5 mg/L of lead in the soil. The soil analysis showed 100 mg/L in the test sample," says Smith.

Deputy Constable Don Rust, who discovered the site last October, adds,"The neighbors have the right to have fresh water. Lead content from, what I understand, once it gets into your body it doesn't leave."

Betty Arterberry grew up here and raised her children here. She's had tumors removed from her body and says other relatives have had unusual health problems too.

"My brother and his wife used to babysit a four-year-old when they lived back there and she can't even talk," says Arterberry.

Who needs to speak up is the companies officials believe are responsible for this, so years of a toxic hazard can get cleaned up.

The constable says this is a felony crime. The penalty can be up to 10 years in prison.

Christine Nelson reporting.