After the Environmental Protection Agency began cleaning up hazardous materials from a former Lubbock business, we're getting the first inside look at some of the toxic waste found in at least 2,000 barrels.
Clean up at the former Scrub-A-Dubb Barrel Company continues, but it's expected to take several more months.
The former business is home to about 80,000 barrels, or drums. Original EPA estimates say between 2,000 - 4,000 drums pose a public health risk.
EPA officials say they've already found 2,000 barrels full of toxic waste - and they've only searched through a quarter of the barrels on the site.
Clean up crews suit up like they're going into a war zone, but their enemies are inside the barrels.
A member of the EPA cleanup crew showed us dark purple sludge from one of the containers. When we asked him what it was, he replied, "That's a good question."
On-site coordinator Greg Fife wasn't exactly sure what the substance was either. He says that's why they're testing.
"We've got about 2,000 or so that have got a lot of material in them. Some liquids and solids, a lot of acids and solvents," Fife said.
Their equipment is busy shredding the barrels into pieces.
"Were seeing a lot of drums corroding and cracking - a lot of materials leaking as we pick them up," Fife said.
There are still thousands more to test.
"They have to take a small sample from each drum, analyze it here in the field to get it in to the category and then either bulk it or take care of it as an individual drum," said Fife.
While Fife and his team aren't too sure about every chemical inside, they have found hydrogen sulfide, also known as sour gas.
"We're having to make sure that doesn't get off-site," Fife said. "It'll choke you down and put you unconscious and kill you pretty quickly."
When our cameras spotted a fox inside one of the barrels, Fife said they've seen several animals on site.
"Those animals clean themselves by licking their fur clean, so they're going to get it ingested as well," Fife said.
The battle against the hazardous material will continue until every barrel is tested or removed.
Citing serious safety concerns, EPA crew members urge everyone to stay away from the location.
We reached out to the property owners through their attorney, but they declined to comment.
KCBD NewsChannel 11 will continue to follow up on this story by asking neighbors living there how they feel about the EPA's cleanup.
Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11