Valpo dry cleaners remains open during environmental cleanup

Source:, October 26, 2015

A dry cleaners in Valparaiso is undergoing a soil and groundwater contamination cleanup without disrupting its business operations.

Mercury Cleaners has been operating at the same site near the Porter County Courthouse at 356 W. Lincolnway in Valparaiso since 1950.

Mercury Cleaners was cited by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management after testing discovered perchloroethylene (also known as PERC or PCE) in the soil and groundwater on a nearby property. The item was a previously common dry cleaning solvent that is no longer in use.

PCE or PERC is a volatile organic compounds listed by the federal government as a suspected human carcinogens.

Norman, Linda and Brett Dygert, owners of Mercury Cleaners, received a notice of liability from IDEM requiring them to find and remove the contaminants caused by dry cleaning solution leaching into the ground under their business.

“We were unnerved, to say the least, but we also wanted to solve the problem,” Linda Dygert said in a statement issued by EnviroForensics, the Indianapolis-based environmental engineering firm contracted for the cleanup work. Continue reading

RUPCO, Lace Mill residents dealing with lead contamination issues

Source:, November 25, 2015
By: Jesse J. Smith

Officials at RUPCO say that they’re working to address lead contamination in 32 apartments at the recently opened Lace Mill artists’ housing complex in Midtown Kingston. The remediation effort, already under way, could force some residents to relocate while crews treat contaminated floors.

The Lace Mill complex opened this summer, offering 55 units of affordable live-work space to artists and their families in a converted former industrial building on Cornell Street. RUPCO spent nearly two years and about $16 million converting the early 20th century factory building into apartments geared towards Kingston’s arts community. The project has won awards and been touted as a key element in efforts to revitalize Midtown Kingston.

RUPCO Executive Director Kevin O’Connor said this week local health department officials alerted the nonprofit to the lead contamination in late September. O’Connor declined to say exactly how the issue arose, citing privacy concerns. But two Lace Mill residents, who asked not to be identified, said the health department was called in after a small child living on one of the upper floors tested positive for elevated lead levels during a routine medical exam. O’Connor said the lead contaminants appeared to be solid material used in soldering discovered inside gaps between floorboards in the upper stories of the building, where designers left the original hardwood factory floor in place. O’Connor characterized the contamination as a “low-level issue,” noting the soldering material was unlikely to turn into dust or other forms that could be easily ingested. Continue reading

Portion of Hannibal hotel closes due to Legionella bacteria

Source:, November 23, 2015
By: Kendra Whittle

A portion of Hannibal’s Best Western on the River hotel remains closed after state officials report tests were positive for Legionella bacteria in four of the 79 rooms at the hotel at 401 N. 3rd Street.

According to Ryan Hobart,  communications director with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, a Centers for Disease Control team took 40 samples from the hotel Nov. 10. On Nov. 20, the CDC notified the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that samples from four rooms tested positive for Legionella bacteria. On Friday night, staff from the local public health agency and the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services met with the hotel to share this information and request the hotel agree to close the facility effective immediately until remediation happens and further testing is satisfactory.

Maintenance Manager Matt Davis said since hotel renovations were already underway, they voluntarily closed the location and Best Western helped roughly 40 customers find lodging elsewhere.

Davis couldn’t say whether customers exhibited symptoms of Legionnaires’ disease, but said state health officials tested the hotel after Hannibal’s Best Western turned up on a list of various places customers stayed. He said he wasn’t sure if there were any guests staying in the specific rooms, but he says he doesn’t believe so, because those rooms were on the floor that is currently getting renovated.

He says this was a better-safe-than-sorry situation.

“Somebody could get sick from Legionella,” Davis said. “Usually, it’s younger people or older people, but anybody could get sick from something we didn’t do.  I think they would rather not make the money and close it down. We didn’t have to close it down. It was voluntarily closed by the owners.”

Now Davis says that the next step is making sure the hotel is safe for guests.

“They’re going to come in and they’re going to treat it with chlorinization and then other processes where they flush and they take care of stuff,” Davis said.

Davis said the hotel’s new location nearby at 321 N. 3rd Street is open for business.

According to the CDC, Legionnaires’ disease is a respiratory disease caused by Legionella bacteria that can sometimes infect the lungs and cause pneumonia.

Settlement with EPA to Address TCE Contamination at Former Toastmaster Manufacturing Facility in Macon, Mo.

Source:, November 23, 2015

EPA Region 7 has reached a settlement with the current and former owners of the Toastmaster small appliance manufacturing facility in Macon, Mo., to address trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination on and around the property.

Spectrum Brands, Inc., the successor corporation to Toastmaster, Inc.; and Compton’s LLC, which purchased the 10-acre facility in June 2012 and currently operates a retail outlet business in its main building, will be responsible for taking a series of actions at the site, according to an administrative settlement agreement and order on consent, filed by EPA in Lenexa, Kan.

Under the settlement, the two companies and EPA have agreed that Compton’s LLC will perform work to address threats to public health, welfare or the environment posed by hazardous substances at the site, located at 704 S. Missouri Street in Macon. If Compton’s LLC does not perform the work as agreed, Spectrum Brands, Inc., would retain joint and several liability for the work. The work will include:

  • Installation of a vapor mitigation system in the plant’s former manufacturing building.
  • Conducting sub-slab and indoor air sampling at adjacent residences.
  • If sampling indicates a need, the installation of vapor mitigation systems in residences to eliminate direct exposure to TCE vapors.
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of any vapor mitigation systems that would be installed as part of the agreement.

EPA will oversee the work under approved plans to ensure that it is completed properly. The site was referred to EPA by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in 2014.

EPA expects that the work outlined by the settlement could take a year or more to complete.

Exposure to TCE vapor may cause developmental effects such as congenital heart defects, central nervous system defects and small birth weight, among other health risks.

Danger in the dirt: St. Louis’ new water system the result of decades of pollution

Source:, November 21, 2015
By: Adrian Hedden

For generations, a nearby chemical company was poisoning the town of St. Louis.

Opening a plant in St. Louis in the 1930s, Michigan Chemical—later Velsicol Chemical Corp.—produced several dangerous chemicals that seeped into the town’s groundwater until the plant was closed in the 1970s.

Decades after the closure, the rural mid-Michigan community continued to struggle for clean drinking water, finding its ground and only source of drinkable water laced with a by-product of pesticide DDT called pCBSA

The chemical is known to induce vomiting, seizures and can cause liver and reproductive damage.

It was found in St. Louis groundwater by Environmental Protection Agency workers in 2005, and was also the latest chapter in St. Louis’ decades-long recovery from the chemical plant’s pollution.

In just his second year as St. Louis City Manager, Bob McConkie responded immediately to the findings, calling the law firm of Robert Kennedy Jr. in California to look at the case.

Kennedy put McConkie in touch with San Francisco law firm Sher Leff and Associates, which specialized in small towns and pollution. Continue reading

Nutley train derailment leaks contaminated soil from Roche site

Source:, November 23, 2015
By: Hasime Kukaj

Saturday’s train derailment in Nutley is under investigation, according to authorities.

Nutley police responded to the intersection of Hillside Avenue and High Street at 2:53 p.m., after someone reported a cargo container fell off the tracks.

Upon arrival, police observed several cargo containers leaning hazardously off the tracks, with one overturned. According to police, it appeared that the soil beneath the tracks gave way, causing the train to tip.

Police secured the area, and notified Norfolk Southern.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon said Monday that two freight cars derailed; one car stayed upright, while the other overturned and leaked 4 cubic yards of soil with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl).

The soil was released on a parking lot, Pidgeon said.

“We do not believe there is any contamination to water or air,” Pidgeon stated. “We are today checking with a contractor to make sure we have everything cleaned up properly.”

Pidgeon said that the train was making a delivery in the area. The train returned to normal operations about 3:15 a.m. Sunday, he added.

According to Roche spokesperson, Darien Wilson, the soil was being transported from the Clifton/Nutley Roche property, as part of the environmental remediation. The pharmaceutical company plans to sell the property by the end of the year.

“What we have in the cars will be repacked into new cars,” Wilson said. “We’re working with Norfolk Southern to see what they need to do on the rail lines.”

According to Wilson, the two damaged units were brought back to the Roche site.

“Everything was handled very quickly,” Wilson said, noting that police and Roche personnel were onsite all weekend.

Wilson said that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection was notified about the spill.

Resort condominium tests positive for Legionnaire’s

Source:, November 19, 2015
By: Josh Davis

Older people more likely to contract disease caused by inhalation of infected water

Officials with the Worcester County Health Department this week confirmed that testing for Legionnaire’s Disease at an Ocean City condominium came back positive for the presence of Legionella bacteria.

An investigation was triggered after the department discovered that two visitors to the Golden Sands condominium on 109th Street had tested positive for the disease, a form of pneumonia.

“The health department has requested a plan from the facility to address the results,” Debra Stevens, WCHD head of nursing, said in an emailed statement on Wednesday. “We will continue to monitor the facility for successful treatment.”

Speaking during a phone interview earlier in the week, Stevens said the health department conducts investigations for Legionella “whenever there is a link of Legionnaire’s disease between two people.”

“In this instance, the link was that both cases stayed at the Golden Sands during the month of October,” she said.

Stevens said that investigation included an assessment of the facility and water testing, and confirmed that water samples were taken from the condominium last week and tested at a state health facility.

She said the health department was in the process of notifying others who stayed at the Golden Sands, dating back to Oct. 9, that they may have been exposed to Legionella. Continue reading


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