New report details levels of contaminated vapors in Franklin homes, nearby areas

FRANKLIN, Ind. — A report about vapor intrusion in homes and areas around the former Amphenol site was released to the public on Wednesday. Experts are urging the Environmental Protection Agency to move faster on the clean-up efforts in Franklin.

The Edison Wetlands Association, a non-profit group, and Mundell Consulting Professionals, spent time in Franklin after the group “If It Was Your Child” raised concerns about contaminants in the environment and whether that affected children in the community getting cancer.

EWA conducted testing via a mobile lab beginning in February. They tested 30 homes from February 25, 2019 until March 4, 2019. The 70-page report details the findings of hundreds of samples collected inside those homes and around Hurricane Creek.

Mundell used VaporSafe which is a sampling technology that took indoor air “grab” readings at 30 homes in Franklin. EWA believes the testing methods used in Franklin before do not “adequately” account for vapor intrusion overtime.

Basically, other investigations have used testing such as air canisters which present data as 24-hour averages. So, EWA said they can miss key times when vapor concentrations are at their highest.

Mundell states in the report there is an “apparent” relationship between barometric pressure and where PCE and TCE were found in homes. They found the lower the barometric pressure, there were slight increases in concentration.

The report also said there are places both within and outside of the area the EPA is studying which may be impacted. They believe some of the areas might exceed state screening levels, but they are not identified yet. Mundell said the EPA could use its own equipment to quickly screen a wide range of homes then quickly know whether there is a human health risk.

The report states 10 of those houses had detectable levels of TCE in indoor air. Four of the houses had results suggesting the presence of TCE above IDEM’s Residential Indoor Air Screening Level.

Grab samples are a “snapshot” in time, so they aren’t the minimum concentration of vapors nor the maximum concentration of vapors. Grab samples collected in sewer cleanouts, which could show the potential of concerning vapors traveling from the main sewer line to homes, identified five residences with concentrations of TCE and/or PCE in exceedance of residential indoor air screening levels. EWA said high concentrations of cVOCs in sewer air could pose the threat of entering homes through faulty plumbing.

At five selected homes, Mundell did continuous monitoring using a combination of both the VaporSafe system, air canisters and passive samplers to measure indoor air. The homes were selected based on their proximity to the former Amphenol site, known soil and ground water impacts surrounding sewer line along N. Forsythe Street and results of the grab sampling.

One of those homes was monitored using grab sampling alone, the other four were tested using that system, air canisters and passive samplers.  In the report, they said comparison of the data from three different testings provided the scientists a ‘checks and balances’ system.

The ambient air canister samples found non-detect for the contaminants of concern.

One of the locations, in Heritage Trail, was monitored for 24 hours from February 28th to March 1. This is the area south of Hurricane Creek and east of N. Forsythe Street. Mundell used a combination of the grab sampling, air canisters and passive samplers. The grab sampling data indicates the presences of TCE above IDEM’s  Residential Indoor Air Screening Level at all six places in the house that were tested.

The passive sampling placed in the main bedroom also indicated the presence of TCE below the screening level. The air canister in the main bedroom did indicate exceedances of IDEM’s indoor air screening levels for both PCE and TCE. For this home, because of the much higher concentration of TCE indicated by the air canister sample compared to the grab sampling and passive sampler data, they retested on April 1.

Hurricane Creek samplings

Mundell reports Hurricane Creek may have been impacted by chemical discharges, along with the creek and creek bank area. They urge the EPA to investigate the area by doing risk assessments which would allow them to know the human exposure via paths like skin contact and ingestion.

Sampling in other areas

Mundell urges EPA to install permanent groundwater monitoring wells south of the Amphenol site and on the Needham and Webb Elementary properties. They feel the current groundwater delineation is not considered reliable until the EPA tests from a ‘permanent monitoring well network.’

Reaction to the report

The EPA provided this statement to FOX59 on Thursday:

EPA has received the report and has begun reviewing it. After this review is complete, EPA and Indiana Department of Environmental Management will coordinate on appropriate next steps.

EPA and IDEM are coordinating their efforts to respond to contaminated sites in Franklin and Johnson County, Ind. In Franklin, IDEM has identified several sites and is responding through its State Cleanup Program. EPA’s current efforts in Franklin are focused on the Amphenol site, which is being cleaned up under the authority of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

The agencies have conducted extensive sampling of the air, groundwater, soil, sewers, and in people’s homes. Although contamination has been detected, the contaminated areas are isolated (not connected underground via groundwater).

Casey McFall, Director of Field Services with EnvironForensics, which works with the City of Franklin said:

“EnviroForensics, on behalf of City of Franklin, has been tasked with evaluating Mundell and Associates Phase III Residential Vapor Testing Report, dated June 24, 2019, and released to the public today, June 26, 2019.  The version of the report we obtained on the Edison Wetlands Association’s website and the If It Was Your Child Facebook page did not contain Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) documentation, which is standard for environmental reports.  Such missing information includes laboratory reports, instrument calibration logs, and field documentation. This information is important to review and assess as part of a technical review of findings and conclusions.

We have requested the QA/QC information and upon its review and analysis we will provide an assessment as to what the data means and what steps should be taken next.”

This is a developing story and FOX59 will continue working for more answers.

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