IDEM commissioner commits only to limited testing of homes

Franklin contamination town hall
Franklin contamination concerns forum

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WTHR) – A nearly full auditorium at Franklin High School reflected the highly anticipated community meeting for residents living there.

It’s the three week culmination after environmental testing showed dangerous chemical vapors intruding into six of 14 homes in Franklin by the Edison Wetlands Association and Mundell and Associates.

Franklin residents have been asking for more testing around the contaminated industrial sites and in their homes.

“No one wants sick kids, so it shouldn’t be difficult to get to the same page,” said Kari Rhinehart, whose daughter Emma Grace died of a rare brain cancer in 2014.

The Edison Wetlands Association spent $20,000 of it's own funding to conduct the testing.

"The biggest worry I think the community has is uncertainty. They don’t really don’t know the full extent of the contamination. They’ve been misled" said Robert Spiegel, Executive Director of Edison Wetlands Association. "We have to hold these agencies accountable," he added.

The organization plans to retest the three homes where levels of TCE and PCE exceeded IDEM's own safe indoor screening levels.

IDEM Commissioner Bruno Pigot says his agency is also willing to retest the homes that had high levels of PCE’s and TCE’s detected in the Edison Wetlands/Mundell Testing. But Pigot disputes that only two homes had results concerning enough to retest.

IDEM is also considering putting in a permanent air monitoring system in the city of Franklin to get real time updates on air quality.

Joe Cisneros, the EPA Division Chief from Region 5, announced Amphenol has put a carbon filter on the top of the pump and treat system at the facility site, which will prevent gases from escaping from the system any longer. The EPA said annually about eight pounds of emissions come from the system and dissipate into the air. According to the EPA, the daily levels are low and well within safe levels.

According to Cisneros, preliminary air testing was conducted at Amphenol last week and a small amount of volatile organic compounds were reportedly discovered.

The EPA says it will do complete site-wide testing at Amphenol and that it will basically be "like starting from scratch."

IDEM will be responsible for helping to carry out the EPA’s requirements.