ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KMOV.com) -- Most garage sales happen on weekends, but the one in Elmwood Thursday was for an emergency move. The homeowner is terrified to sleep in her own home after learning neighboring homes tested positive for TCE, a cancer-causing chemical. On Thursday night that resident gathered with neighbors to hear their legal options from Simmons Law office, who is representing one of the residents.
“Several of my neighbors have passed away and it’s affected my son’s health,” said the woman who was afraid to share her identity. “And I’m just afraid of what I’m living in and breathing everyday.”
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) told residents last week of the danger stemming from a 1988 industrial spill. The spill happened at what is now Missouri Metals LLC, but a different company operated the building at the time. DNR hasn’t been forthcoming with answers to News 4, but we know DNR knew of the spill in 1994 if not sooner. They held the first neighborhood meeting in August 2012 and that was at the request of the St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley’s office.
Attorneys with Simmons said they are in the discovery phase as to who is responsible for the spill. They informed residents of the dangers of TCE which is linked to cancer and other chronic illnesses.
“My wife been going off and on to hospital with health issues,” said Mikerlange Altidor. “And I’m assuming it might be related to that bad chemical.”
Altidor bought his home 6 years ago and says he plans to get his mortgage company involved in finding out who’s responsible.
“And if I had known that there’s no way I’d have bought this house,” Altidor said. “At this time the house has no value.”
Missouri DNR tested 10 homes in the past few months. They say 9 homes tested positive for TCE and 3 had levels that aren’t considered safe. DNR asked the EPA to get involved 4 weeks ago. They will test more homes next week. They wait for the results to be evalutated before deciding to test more homes outside that radius. So it could be years before all homes in the Elmwood neighborhood are tested.
And the EPA says the chemical from the original spill is still in the ground under Missouri Metals so it could be continuously contaminating the groundwater and reaching nearby homes.
Some residents aren’t sticking around.
“I’m afraid for my family,” said Altidor. He plans to move soon.