Elmwood contamination update: Perkin Elmer responsible for cleanup

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by John Knicely / News 4

KMOV.com

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 8:20 PM

ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) -- Testing for TCE, a cancer-causing chemical continues this week in homes in the Elmwood Neighborhood of North St. Louis County.  News 4 has now tracked down the company paying for the testing and responsible for the cleanup.  Perkin Elmer of Waltham, Massachusetts is the company on the line. 

Three homes have tested positive for elevated levels of TCE, which can enter a home through groundwater and can also vaporize.  On Friday the EPA will finish the second round of testing.

Perkin Elmer was able to provide more clarity into the dangerous chemical’s presence in Elmwood.  In 1988 EG&G, the predecessor to Perkin Elmer, purchased Missouri Metals.  The company manufactured metal components for aerospace and power generation industries.  Perkin Elmer says the new company discovered waste and environmental issues from the previous owner and notified the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR). 

The EPA got involved in the situation in July of this year.  A spokesman says an industrial spill in 1988 led to the issue of TCE contaminating the groundwater, but Perkin Elmer disputes that. 

Perkin Elmer says they have been testing and working to clear the site and surroundings of TCE ever since.  But they haven’t been able to provide exactly where they tested or how they informed their residential neighbors.  The Missouri DNR has not been forthcoming with information, but has said that DNR conducted groundwater sampling in 1999 and air sampling in 2001.  DNR says they made information available at the local library.  News 4 has talked to residents who’ve lived in the area for 20 years or more and some who bought a house there in between 1999 and 2008.  They all say the first time they heard of the dangerous chemical in the area was at a public meeting 2 weeks ago.

The EPA, DNR, and Perkin Elmer all stress that the levels of TCE shown in recent tests do not constitute an immediate threat to public health.  But some residents aren’t sticking around.  Last Thursday one woman held an emergency garage sale so she could move out.  Her 25 year old son recently was diagnosed with a rare heart disease and she fears it’s due to exposure to TCE.

News 4 will stay on the story as more tests come back.  And we will continue to push the parties involved to provide answers.

 

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