EPA to conduct additional testing after report shows higher levels of chemicals in Franklin homes

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FRANKLIN, Ind. — The U.S. EPA confirms it is working to conduct additional testing following a report showing higher levels of chemicals in some homes in Franklin.

Prompted by concerns over the number of pediatric cancer cases in Johnson County, the non-profit environmental group Edison Wetlands Association coordinated vapor intrusion testing in 14 homes near the former Amphenol/ Franklin Power and Webb Wellfield sites in Johnson County. They found higher levels of TCE, PCE and radon in some of the homes.

“What’s apparent to us is that it may be more of an ambient air problem in that the outside air outside of these homes is contaminated,” Shannon Lisa, the program’s director for Edison Wetlands Association, said after the release.

The EPA said it is concerned about the findings.

Friday, the U.S. EPA wrote in a statement to CBS4:

EPA recently received information from Edison Wetlands Association and the organization “If it Was Your Child” regarding vapor intrusion sampling they performed at homes near the Amphenol/Franklin Power and Webb Well Field sites in Johnson County, Ind. EPA is concerned about the groups’ findings and is working with Amphenol Corp. to conduct additional testing to investigate possible vapor intrusion pathways. EPA is coordinating closely with the State of Indiana and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and will follow-up with the community as information becomes available.

Friday afternoon, Sen. Joe Donnelly sent a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler and IDEM Commissioner Pigott.

“Hoosiers living in these areas deserve to have confidence that their communities are safe. I ask that you expeditiously take every possible action to help provide this confidence by immediately conducting an assessment of the sites with real-time ambient air monitoring and verification of the effectiveness of existing mitigation efforts. Furthermore, if the new information that has been provided indicates harmful levels of hazardous contamination, I ask that you take all appropriate actions necessary to ensure the remediation of the contaminated sites and prevent any additional discharges of toxic chemicals into the air, water, and soil,” Sen. Donnelly wrote in part.

Thursday, Sen. Donnelly also sent a letter to the secretary of Health and Human Services calling for the implementation of Trevor’s Law, passed in 2016.

Locally, Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett met with state and federal officials Thursday to discuss EWA’s report.

In a statement released following the meeting, the city said the EPA and IDEM “…have been unable to validate the report due to a lack of information. Both agencies have requested additional information from the group but have not yet received that information.”

“During the meeting, we heard detailed accounts of the environmental investigation and cleanup which has been occurring over the past 33 years under the direction of the EPA. The ongoing environmental monitoring associated with that appears favorable, and both EPA and IDEM have assured me that they will continue their work as long as necessary to ensure there is no safety concern,” Mayor Barnett said.

A petition online started by “If It Was Your Child,” a group formed by Kari Rhinehart, whose daughter Emma Grace died of brain cancer, and Stacie Davidson, whose stepson Zane successfully battled Leukemia, has garnered more than 30,000 signatures asking the EPA for further testing.

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