Franklin families wait for re-testing to find out if homes are safe, free from toxic vapors

FRANKLIN, Ind.— Some families in Franklin are waiting to get more answers about possible toxins in their homes in the midst of concerns about the number of pediatric cancer cases in Johnson County.

Those concerns prompted the non-profit group, Edison Wetlands Association, to coordinate testing of 14 homes in Franklin near the former Amphenol and Franklin Power Products site by Mundell & Associates. After it was determined a previous owner released chemicals into the environment, the site is part of the EPA’s RCRA Corrective Action Program. Another nearby site, the Webb Wellfield, is a non-NPL state led superfund site. The sampling of homes within miles of the former Amphenol/Franklin Power Products site found higher levels of volatile organic compounds in some homes.

“It's frustrating because we're waiting to find out if our home is safe and free of any toxic vapors that may be in our home,” Jennifer Clark said.

Clark’s daughter, Chelsea, was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 12. She went through three and half years of treatment, and at age 17, must still go back to her oncologist to make sure everything is fine.

Their home was number 13 on Mundell & Associates report. It showed detections of PCE, a likely carcinogen and TCE, a carcinogen, exceeding the IDEM residential indoor air screening levels in their kitchen.

“These VOC's we know have been linked to cancer and blood cancers and that's what Chelsea has and we just want to know that it's safe and that it can't happen to anybody else in our home or any of the homes around here,” Clark said.

In the wake of the report, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management agreed to re-test three homes listed in it.

“I have an uneasy feeling about how they’re going about it because I didn’t see a written plan, I didn’t see a long term plan, they didn’t provide any of that when we sat down and met with them,” Clark said.

Clark asked IDEM to split the sampling with Mundell & Associates.

According to an email EWA provided to FOX59  from an IDEM representative, another homeowner also requested Mundell be present during sampling.

EWA said they’ve contacted IDEM for the past two weeks offering to do joint sampling on the homes, however, were only able to get in contact with them Monday. They also question whether IDEM is following federal regulations.

“These federal regulations are in effect to protect those in the homes you were proposing to sample and also those conducting the testing in and around the residential homes. These federal regulations are not discretionary but mandatory, and also in place for the public protection. Failure to comply with OSHA HAZWOPER regulations is something we at the EWA take very seriously, I myself have been certified and recertified as required by law and I was deeply troubled that IDEM does not comply with these important health and safety requirements,” EWA executive director Robert Spiegel wrote in an email to IDEM.

A spokesperson for IDEM released this statement to FOX59:

“All IDEM field staff receive required Hazwoper 8 hour refresher training annually in addition to their initial base training of 40 or 24 hours depending on their specific job duties. We’re happy to work with EWA and have proposed sampling dates for the remaining two homes. To date, they have not accepted or proposed alternative dates. IDEM is ready to mobilize immediately.”

IDEM said it also plans to place a stationary air monitor in Franklin, collect ground water and soil gas samples north of Hurricane Creek, sample water from Hurricane Creek and conduct short term air monitoring. It worked with Johnson County Health Department to sample 24 private drinking water wells near the Paris Estates subdivision. IDEM writes it “will re-confirm the wells in this area are still providing safe drinking water.” Results are not yet back.