13 Investigates: State testing results point to possible pattern of vapor intrusion in Franklin

Franklin Soil testing update 6:30
13 Investigates chemical test results
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FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) - The state's first set of testing results are in from a Franklin home where dangerous vapors were detected during previous tests.

13 Investigates has reviewed the report that now shows no dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals inside Darrell Cochran's home on Ott Street, but it did find them just outside.

Sitting at his kitchen table just feet from where vapor samples were taken Darrell Cochran breathes a sigh of relief.

New test results from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management show no detections of dangerous vapors inside his Franklin home.

"I believe in this because they were so thorough. I mean they tested twice as many places," said Cochran. "I'm really happy with what IDEM did," he told 13 Investigates.

The report is a stark contrast to the levels discovered months ago during testing conducted on behalf of a non-profit environmental group. Testing conducted in Cochran's house back in June by Mundell & Associates had indoor levels of PCE three times over the residential screening level the Indiana Department of Environmental Management considers safe. PCE is a possible human carcinogen, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

But no PCE this time, at least inside and under Cochran's crawl space.

"'You're fine. You don't have to be concerned,'" he said, repeating what the IDEM tester told him.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management decided to retest not just the inside of Cochran's home, but outside as well to see if ambient air might be the source of the earlier detection. What the state found in this newest round of testing could provide a possible pattern of vapor intrusion.

Outside of Cochran's home is a different story, starting with a vent on Cochran's roof.

Test results show detectable levels of PCE (11) under the reporting limit of (17)

There was no detection of TCE, but detections of Hexane (41) approaching limit of (44).

Hexane is a volatile liquid solvent that can cause problems breathing, nausea and headache.

IDEM also tested three sewers surrounding Cochran's home and discovered a troubling pattern of vapor intrusion.

In the Oyler Street sewer, PCE vapors (74ppb) were detected four times over the reporting limit of (17ppb)

TCE vapors (10ppb) and Hexane (42) were both just below the safe limits for those chemicals.

Behind Cochran's garage in an alley sewer, PCE Levels (43) are two times over the reporting limit. Right along with it, detectable levels of TCE (5.9). The reporting level for TCE is (13)

Hexane at that location is two times over the reporting limit.

And finally, outside Cochran's front door just feet from the old Franklin Power Products site on Forsythe Street, more Hexane. There it is three times over the reporting limit.

All of it raises questions about the source of the vapors.

"If it is a problem with the Amphenol plant, it could have come down through the sewer system because it's just right up here, half a mile," said Cochran pointing out his kitchen window. He believes the city has to find out what is going on.

We asked IDEM about its findings. Ryan Clem, the Director of Communications provided a statement to 13 Investigates.

"Wastewater found in sewers typically contains a variety of compounds commonly utilized in homes and businesses. The presence of such compounds in wastewater is not necessarily indicative of a release associated with a facility," said Clem.

But IDEM's own records show there have been violations involving the old Franklin Power Products site for releasing chemical wastewater into the sanitary sewer system.

Clem also says the PCE levels found in the sewers are below the permissible exposure limits that apply to sewer workers under OSHA standards.

And he says the levels would register below commercial indoor screening levels if the same amounts were found in an industrial setting.