The Raleigh Naturalist

August 13, 2008

Ward Transformers – Crime Never Stops Hurting

Filed under: Crabtree Creek, Gems & Surprises, green initiatives — Tags: , , , , — raleighnaturalist @ 2:09 pm

     A recent N&O story reminds us of the reason for these signs, posted all along the Crabtree system:  our city’s water system is tainted by PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), a toxic chemical released over many years by the actions of Ward Transformers, a company whose name is etched in the annals of NC corporate crimes, a company STILL OPERATING next to the Superfund site next to RDU airport, where its buried load of poisons is slowly being incinerated through the process pictured below.

Ward Transformer site

Ward Transformer site

Ward Transformers has a long history of environmental crimes in North Carolina.  Long before the discovery that it’s open burning of materials on site to recover copper had applied PCBs to the soil surrounding its plant, Ward Transformers and its contractor, Robert Burns, were found guilty of dumping PCB-laced waste along miles of rural NC highways, using a specially designed dumping apparatus constructed at Ward Transformers.  Burns and “Buck” Ward spent some time in jail, but at some point the EPA or someone in government realized that a bankrupt company couldn’t help pay clean-up costs, so Ward Transformers was left in business.  The state of North Carolina had to scrape up the roadside deposits and figure out what to do with them – leading to a separate whole nightmare with the landfill in Warren County.

That was way back in 1978.  The next year, EPA tests show contamination in the soil around the plant itself.  In 1993, preliminary Superfund action was undertaken and in 2002 it was declared a Superfund site.  Yet much local outcry and promotion took place before clean-up work was begun.  Now, according to the newspaper report, the work is being done, and in a safe manner. Yet concerns remain about the process, as well described in this post at Raleigh Eco News.  I went out to look at the site.  The EPA’s clean-up incinerator really puts out a huge stream of white smoke – apparently almost all water vapor.

     Thank you for listening to my rant.  It just drives me crazy that ole Buck Ward spent a few months in jail and now his company rolls merrily along, though I presume they send a hefty check to the EPA each month.  We will never fully recover from these actions in my lifetime.  And we will never figure out the “best” way to punish such transgressors – justice and reparation are both so tough to achieve.


As a balance to the above, please enjoy a juvenile box turtle living in our garden and a fawn Cara and I saw on a trip last weekend.



  1. […] Advisory, no cure for environmental damage Result 1 Discovered August 13, 2008 at 1:38 pm The Raleigh Nature blog has a post about a toxic chemical released over many years by the actions of Ward Transformers, a […]

    Pingback by Fish Advisory, no cure for environmental damage - Highlighting the Triangle Online — August 13, 2008 @ 5:38 pm

  2. Are you sure Ward is still operating?

    Comment by Lisa Zebovitz — November 25, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

  3. All the articles say it is but I must admit I found no sign of that at the site, so perhaps they operate elsewhere. My research said they continue to use PCB but that it is disposed of properly. Perhaps this summer I can find the time to figure that out. They have a functioning web site – I could also ask a real journalist like Sue over at! Thanks for the inquiry and maybe somebody in the know will comment.

    Comment by raleighnaturalist — November 25, 2008 @ 9:22 pm

  4. Please keep me informed about the Ward PCB cleanup. I have been involved in this PCB story for thirty years.

    Comment by Deborah Ferruccio — December 26, 2008 @ 3:35 pm

    • Does anyone have any documents on the PCBs in 1978 on FT Bragg, NC in Fayetteville. I would really appreciate it. I was exposed there and have high levels–Thanks

      Comment by Bill Luce — August 8, 2010 @ 6:28 am

      • Glad to see you are still kickin Bill. I too was exposed in 78 at Ft. Bragg.(We were in the same Unit) I have had autoimmune issues for 36 years and have only recently put together what’s up. I have strong allergic reactions to “Round-Up” and other herbicides.(I’ve been hospitalized several times) Any info on what has become of Ward’s or their heirs would be appreciated.

        Comment by Dan Wood — July 3, 2014 @ 3:43 am

  5. I am in the know and here is my comment…..
    The building at WARD is soon to be torn down b/c of the toxins. The “office” is located in another part of Raleigh under a different LLC. The two companies have no relation to each other. The WARD family still owns a home in Raleigh as well as many other real estate properties on land and at sea. The court papers are public records and can be easily found. These such papers state that Mr. Ward was completely aware of what was happening. I find it very unfair that these companies use counties that are predominately African American. Those such as myself are not wealthy enough to confront these problems. Everyday we sacrifice our well being for the arrogance of the rich. They feel as though they are above the law. With all of their resources, whom have they “paid off”?

    Comment by John Doe — December 29, 2008 @ 4:40 pm


    Take a look at this website. This is public records I was talking about.

    Comment by John Doe — December 29, 2008 @ 4:45 pm

  7. They continued to dump PCB’s along the roads of Ft. Bragg well after 1978. We used to wonder what the stuff was as we walked alongside or in it during road-marches and training missions. We drank the water from the nearby streams and were not warned of the dangers. Eventually, we began to see scattered signs that said “Danger PCB’s” but we did not know what they were. We trained in those areas (and yes, we trained in the impact areas too) so I’d like to know who gave them permission to dump at Ft. Bragg in the first place.

    Comment by Ray K — December 19, 2015 @ 8:54 pm

  8. I worked at Wards for a few years while the open burning was ongoing. They used to take the transformer coils out the back garage like door and burn the about 30 feet from the door. I breathed in plenty of that PCB smoke. Is there anything being done to assist the people who worked at Ward’s and were exposed to these PCB’s?

    Comment by Rather NotNow — March 6, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

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