Department of Natural Resources testing for air pollutants in Moberly

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MOBERLY - Contaminants stemming from an Orscheln facility may be in Moberly's air and sewers, and the City Council voted Monday to allow the state's Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to investigate.

The council's agenda stated, "Industrial operations at the Orbco facility in Moberly have previously been identified as the source of TCE pollutants."

TCE, also known as trichloroethylene, is a common compound used by dry cleaners and refrigerant manufacturing facilities, according to the EPA's website.

The Orbco facility on North Morley Street, which is owned by Orscheln Management Co., makes materials for vehicle maintenance, such as control cables, parking brake systems and dipstick assembles.

The EPA says on its website TCE raises health concerns in small or repeated exposure, including harms to a developing fetus, a person's nervous system, and possibly cancer.

Orscheln Management issued this statement in response to the testing:
"Over the years MDNR has stated the plume was contained within the property boundary line and there are no known health impacts.  The contaminant levels continue to decline and the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services has stated vapor intrusion levels at the plant are 'very low.'"
Orscheln Attorney Jessica Minor told KOMU the employees who normally could speak on this were unavailable for comment.
Two homeowners on North Morley Street said they had not been contacted by the city, the DNR or Orscheln.
"I'm here every day, almost 24/7," said John Bernand, who lives across the street from the Orbco plant. "Nobody's ever contacted us."
He said hearing about the possible impact of the pollution has made him see the city in a new light.
“I don't know if I want to live here in town no more," he said.
Mary Calcagno, the city's director of public works, said the city is not directly involved in the testing but believed the DNR would start testing Tuesday, sampling areas all across the city.
“We are just the muscle, and we're making sure the manholes get sealed back up after their testing is done,“ she said.
Calcagno said DNR had tested the city's sewage systems several times in the past 20 years, although she was not sure of exact dates.
Susan Bloomer, the DNR deputy director of communications, said DNR was notified of TCE contamination at the Orbco plant in 1988.
The sampling starting Tuesday would "determine if TCE has migrated off of the Orbco property," according to Bloomer.
She said if the testing shows the chemicals did spread off the property, then the DNR would "assess the results and decide accordingly" on a plan of action.
Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include a response from the Department of Natural Resources.

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