TCE Contamination Update

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CAMDENTON - The ongoing TCE, or trichloroethylene debate in Camdenton has moved forward and gained progress in the right direction toward cleanup, according to The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and Camdenton residents.

The message Valerie Wilder, The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Superfund section Chief in the Hazardous Waste Program is trying to drive home is, “The City of Camdenton’s drinking water is safe to drink, no TCE.”

KOMU 8 News asked Wilder if she would drink the drinking water in Camdenton. She replied, “absolutely.”

James Gohagan, a Camdenton resident, said he feels it is now safe to drink the water.

KOMU 8 News first reported on the contamination debate between Camdenton residents and the DNR in September 2017.

A Target 8 Investigation in December 2017 broke down the locations where DNR said TCE was once used and helped uncover an old manufacturing site where TCE was used that DNR did not know about. Since the Target 8 Investigation, DNR has opened numerous investigations on multiple sites for further testing.

“Since our public meeting in September 2017, we have done a great deal of work in seven months. One of the things we committed to at the meeting was starting a community advisory team, which we had done,” Wilder said.

DNR created the Camdenton Industrial TCE Community Advisory Team, or CITCAT, which has 18 members from the community including real estate agents, business owners, residents around the site and former employees. The group meets the first Tuesday of every month and the meetings are open to the public. Many of the meetings are taped and posted on social media.

“I think it’s been very successful, we’ve worked well together, I think we’re responding and I think the CITCAT is disseminating information out to the public as well,” Wilder said.

She believes the CITCAT group has built trust within the community. 

“I do believe that it’s built trust, the most frustration with everybody is the time it’s taken,” Gohagan, Camdenton resident and CITCAT Advisory Chair said.

“I was incredibly frustrated with them because all the meetings prior to that were just like,they would separate everyone, wouldn't let you ask questions and it felt like the mood has changed.” Gohagan said the department is, “definitely more transparent, I can pick up the phone and call my liaison anytime.”

When KOMU 8 News first reported on the TCE contamination, DNR would not discuss health concerns and referred anyone concerned to their doctor.

Now, Wilder said, “One of our primary objectives is to address any exposure issues in the community. Right now in Camdenton there is no exposure to TCE contamination above a level of health concern.”

Gohagan still thinks TCE is to blame for health concerns among members of the community, including his wife who was diagnosed with Lupus shortly after moving to Camdenton.

Since KOMU 8 News' Target 8 Investigation, DNR tested 13 private and public drinking wells near the Camdenton Memorial Airport, which was an area of concern because TCE was knowingly dumped there in 1999. Wilder confirmed there was no TCE found in any of the 13 wells.

The Dawson #2 facility site was recommended as a superfund site in December. Now, Wilder said the responsible party, Hamilton Sundstrand is installing a sub-slab depressurization system in May to “address the potential for those vapors that are in the sub-slab to enter the building above levels of health concerns,” Wilder said. “We are taking care of and overseeing that work of exposure concern.”

The CITCAT group brought up a concern about a contaminated wastewater being rerouted to another location. In response, DNR opened another investigation on the site and said it will conduct sampling gathering documents from the City of Camdenton. When lagoon number three, as DNR refers to it,  was closed in 1989, treated wastewater from Modine’s old manufacturer building located on 221 Sunset Drive was diverted to Camdenton’s treatment plant lagoon. As of May, DNR said it found about 18 months where potentially contaminated wastewater was released. DNR requested Hamilton Sundstrand to do further testing on the soil and vapor in the lagoon number three as well. Hamilton Sundstrand started that investigation in October and will begin the second phase in May. This testing will show if there are any homes or businesses close enough to this lagoon that may need vapor-intrusion sampling.

Hamilton Sundstrand said in a statement, "For nearly 20 years, Hamilton Sundstrand has been cooperating with MDNR and the City of Camdenton to investigate and address environmental concerns in Camdenton. We are actively involved in and support the efforts of the CITCAT to gather and evaluate the various remedial options. We remain committed to the health and safety of our employees, our neighbors, and the communities in which we operate and we will continue to fulfill our longstanding commitments."  

Wilder said this shows the CITCAT’s process, “is really working, they feel comfortable letting us know about additional concerns and we are responding to those concerns.”

Investigations on the building located at 221 Sunset Drive are still in process. DNR is overseeing the work the responsible party is doing. For this facility, it’s Modine Manufacturing.

All parties involved in all respective facilities agreed to enter into a legal agreements with the DNR, “so that they fund any additional investigations and cleanup work and they also fund the department’s oversight for that work, so there is no state money being used down in Camdenton.”

This means tax dollars are not being used for investigations into these sites, only money from the responsible parties or money from the Superfund grant are used to fund these investigations.

The city of Camdenton and Hamilton Sundstrand are considered responsible parties.

“One of the concerns or comments we heard a lot from the community is you’ve been down in Camdenton a long time and not a whole lot seems to be done here, you weren’t here doing work for so long,” Wilder said.

“People have asked it’s been so long and nothings been done, but the timeline shows that a lot has been done and these investigations do take a long time and I know that’s frustrating for some people,” Wilder said. “DNR is committing to continuing new investigations if we need any and overseeing investigations done by the responsible parties.”

Gohagan echoed this concern.

Wilder said the investigations and cleanup work are a long process, “It’ll take several more years,” she said. “It’s really difficult to give an exact time frame.”

In March, DNR put out a 21-page timeline with more than 150 entries, “The citizens asked for it, we prepared it and put it out there,” Wilder said.

At the last public meeting, residents brought up trust issues with DNR. Residents said they were concerned with DNR being the gatekeeper of all the lab and test results.

Wilder said DNR is posting actual lab results, plans and interpretations to help read the results. To alleviate any fears they are tampering with lab results, Wilder added there is a lot of quality control. “Our lab would never falsify results, there’s so many checks and balances associated.” Wilder said, “It’s all good data."

Gohagan said, overall he is much happier with DNR.

“Our whole thing was transparency and we didn’t feel like we were getting that for quite a long time, it went from having no communication, to I can just pick up the phone now and call MDNR Monday through Friday which is great, that’s where all the frustration lied before.” Gohagan said. “We had to have a protest and stuff like that and make a big deal out of it and I hate to sound like a little kid, but we got our way.”

“We are committed to being in Camdenton, to address any exposure issues related to TCE, we continue to investigate and oversee the clean up work by the responsible parties in Camdenton,” Wilder said.

DNR is conducting investigations at the following locations:

  • 221 Sunset drive
  • Lagoon #3, with is combined with the Mulbery Well
  • Dawson Metal Products Camdenton Facility #2
  • Camdenton Treatment Lagoon

DNR has closed the investigation at the dump site near Camdenton Memorial Airport.