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EPA lays out plan to clean up Franklin contamination

The agency plans to inject treatment chemicals into the ground near the former Amphenol plant to break down the toxins in the groundwater.

FRANKLIN, Ind. — Residents of Franklin learned more Thursday night about plans to clean up contamination in their soil and groundwater.

13 Investigates has been covering the problem and its impact and cleanup for several years after a large number of children started getting cancer in the Johnson County city.

"It's tough losing a daughter. Losing a child. Starting over in life," said Dana Shank.

Shank moved away from Franklin after losing her 10-year-old daughter Alexa to leukemia 16 years ago. She was one of several children in the area diagnosed with some kind of cancer.

Some survived, but others, like Alexa, passed away.

RELATED: Report on potential contamination from Franklin Amphenol site shows possible spread

Thursday, Shank returned to Franklin to hear the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to finish cleaning up contamination from the Amphenol plant that lingers decades later.

"We lived right in the middle of the plume," Shank said.

She's talking about the area around the plant where later testing found groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds - or VOCs. The chemicals were never directly linked to any of the cancer cases or deaths, but EPA testing revealed some Franklin homes had vapors from the contamination seeping in.

Credit: WTHR

Thirty-seven homes were tested. Of those, seven required mitigation systems to help with the vapor levels.

"We don't want to have those forever. We want to control the source so the vapor isn't present anymore," said Chris Black with the EPA.

That is why the EPA is planning to back to the source - the Amphenol plant - and inject treatment chemicals into the ground to break down the toxins in the groundwater. They'll do the same thing in areas of Franklin where homes were impacted by the vapor.

That includes areas like Forsythe Avenue, where Alexa Shank lived.

RELATED: Pilot study to treat groundwater toxins completed in Franklin

"In terms of the groundwater, we figure 10 years to get it to drinking water standards," Black said.

Credit: Submitted photos
Several children in Franklin were diagnosed with some form of cancer.

The EPA said it will take two to three years for injections to reach cleanup levels, which they'll monitor for the next five to ten years.

"We think people currently are safe and we think this remedy will control the source," Black said.

Before they start, possibly this fall or next spring, the EPA wanted to hear what Franklin residents thought about their plan.

When we asked Dana Shank what she thought, her answer was simple.

"I'm not going to comment at this time," she said.

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