Homeowners concerned over discovery of more migrating toxins in Franklin


FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) — Action is promised in Franklin after a new discovery of toxins migrating underground and into the path of homes.

"They (Amphenol) have agreed to remove the contaminated soil and replace the city sewer from their property on Hamilton Avenue down Forsythe Street," announced Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett during a public meeting hosted Wednesday night by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The highest concentration of cancer causing toxins was found just north of the Ross Court neighborhood. The area was highlighted in purple on posters outside the meeting for homeowners to see. According to the EPA, the toxins came from the old Amphenol site and seeped through the cracks in the sewers and into the soil and groundwater.

"Our concern is long-term exposure to those chemicals, even at the levels we found so far could lead people to having increased cancer incidence," said Joe Cisneros, EPA Region 5 Division Chief.

For members of the grassroots group, 'If It Was Your Child,' it's further validation the environment is contaminated off-site. Now, the group of mothers want to know if environmental toxins are causing a high rate of pediatric cancer in Franklin.

"There's too much compelling evidence to tell me my child got sick because of something else," explained Kari Rhinehart talking about her daughter, Emma Grace. She died from glioblastoma. "She lived for eleven years on top of all of this," Rhinehart said, pointing to a map of the city and areas where toxins were found.

"It's not a surprise because this is what we've been going after she this is what we thought to be true," added Stacie Davidson, citing old studies that warned Forsythe Street could see the worst impact of migrating toxins.

Other homeowners who also attended the public meeting aren't convinced the plume stopped on Forsythe Street either.

"The creek stuff really worries me," said one homeowner. "You don't know what it's like when it's flooding. It's a sight to see," he said referring to the common flooding problems on Forsythe Street near Hurricane Creek.

"That cut off is amazing," added Sherri Lefevers. "I don't know how you developed that plume was just in that area. It's all over. Do what you can. It's worse than you think," she wanred the EPA.

The Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is planning to conduct a health risk study at the Amphenol site. The agency will look at the environment, the potential exposures and possible health effects.

In addition to new sewer lines on Forsythe Street, the EPA says 37 homes near manholes with elevated sewer gas levels or groundwater contamination are deemed priority homes and in nee of air testing now.

So far, only half of the priority homes have been tested. Homeowners are being urged to cooperate with the EPA, as it plans a new round of winter testing.

Cisneros says the EPA is not at the point to do comprehensive testing of hundreds of home in Franklin, and no decision has been made to take over the entire investigation as recommended by Senator Joe Donnelly.