Woman uses Facebook to reach possible victims of “Valley of the Drums”

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by Adam Walser

WHAS11.com

Posted on August 24, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Updated Tuesday, Aug 24 at 6:16 PM

 Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - It was more than 30 years ago when work began to clean-up a site in northern Bullitt County.  It was called “Valley of the Drums”.

But some local residents believe their health still may be suffering because of the thousands of barrels of chemicals once located there.

The site is located off Letts Road near Highway 1020, less than a mile from the Bullitt-Jefferson County line.

When the Environmental Protection Agency first stepped in more than 30 years ago, the 23-acre site contained more than 17,000 discarded barrels, many of them containing hazardous waste.

The barrels were dumped there by several different businesses over more than twenty years.

The site was nicknamed "Valley of the Drums" and became the very first "Superfund" site in the nation, which would eventually be cleaned up with part of a $1 billion account established by the federal government to remove hazardous waste from the air, ground and water.

Samantha Ankeny remembers growing up near the site, playing out in her front yard every day. She says her family has suffered from strange illnesses for years.

“Me and my brother both had open heart surgery,” Ankeny said. “No reason why our hearts were that way. My little sister, she's 13. She's got problems with her gall bladder.”

About all that remains of the “Valley of the Drums” is an overgrown field and a rusty old fence. There's not even a sign there. The EPA officially completed clean-up of the site in 1990, the year before Samantha Ankeny was born.

Samantha believes lingering toxic chemicals in the environment may be the reason why she has a softball-sized tumor in her uterus and can't get pregnant.

She's been using Facebook to reach others in the area. 

“I have 20 messages here from different people saying that they have been through the same thing,” Ankeny said. “They have the same issues and they want help too.”

The EPA regularly monitors the site and submits reports every five years.

The most recent one indicated no reason for concerns regarding health issues.   

But that doesn't comfort Samantha, who says she's seen friends, neighbors and family get sick. 

“To always be around someone who's sick and for them not to have answers to it, it makes you have to grow up a lot faster,” she said.

WHAS11 contacted the EPA about the latest claims, but have not heard back from anyone.

More than 40 rusty drums were discovered just outside the fenced in area as recently as two years ago, leading many people in the area to believe not all of the toxic material has been removed.
 

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