Instead of presenting Camdenton citizens affected by TCE contamination from a former manufacturing plant for the last 20 years with new information regarding recent environmental testing and abatement procedures, representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources decided it was best for those citizens to interpret the complex geological data themselves.

Instead of presenting Camdenton citizens affected by TCE contamination from a former manufacturing plant for the last 20 years with new information regarding recent environmental testing and abatement procedures, representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources decided it was best for those citizens to interpret the complex geological data themselves.

TCE, or trichloroethylene, is a chemical commonly used as an industrial solvent. It was in use in the past under multiple manufacturers at the industrial site located at 221 Sunset, Camdenton. Degreasers in the former manufacturing processes used TCE.

In what the department called a “public availability session” held on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 at Camdenton High School, no media was allowed to record and only one out of the nearly ten representatives from MoDNR, Modine, CH2M Hill, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services and Hullett Lagoon and Mulberry Well super fund sites was made available for comment.

Christine Kump-Mitchell, P.E., DNR, was available for comment to media, but could not answer specific questions related to the test results due to the fact that CH2M Hill had completed the testing and just shared the data with MoDNR who had not yet had time to analyze it, though decided to share the raw, unanalyzed data with the public.

A representative from CH2M Hill and the Department of Health and Senior Services declined to answer questions from the media related to data gathering methods, sampling and potential health affects. A MoDNR representative said the session was following its communications policy and any further questions must be forwarded through each individual entity’s communications department.

“I think all these are is trying to confuse people,” Camdenton resident James Gohagen, who lives near the old facility, said. “Let’s throw a bunch of numbers at people, so they’ll get tired and leave. They don’t want it to turn into what it did last time.”

In March 2016, a year after Modine, the former occupier of the factory at 221 Sunset Dr., and its contractor, CH2M Hill, began onsite/facility indoor air, outdoor air and gas sampling beneath the building, the results showed concentrations in air above applicable screening levels, which were made public in a meeting hosted by DNR earlier in the month.

However, during that meeting, which was supposed to stick to a strict agenda, citizens became angry with what they interpreted as DNR refusing to answer general questions that affect the community as a whole, rather than an individual residence.

Several arguments broke out during the meeting in March 2016 between moderators and citizens attempting to ask questions and who were told they must ask those questions one-on-one with the representative and not in a public setting.

During December 2015 to December 2016, CH2M conducted residential vapor intrusion sampling tests on residential properties near the old facility and super fund sites. According to the poster provided to citizens, 116 indoor air locations were tested with three initial samples exceeding the project-specify action levels.

A total of 45 crawlspace locations were analyzed with zero samples and a total of 108 sub-slab soil gas locations with three initial samples exceeding. After re-testing those six instances of excessive levels, confirmation samples showed two of those exceeding levels. What the graph did not tell citizens is that the 269 samples were all taken from the same 22 houses, Kump-Mitchell confirmed.

A young couple who just purchased one of the affected homes that already has an abatement system installed seemed to be learning about the potential contamination of TCE for the first time. The couple was referred to CH2M who took down their information and appeared to register them for further testing.

Ongoing residential sampling at designated properties will continue along with exterior soil vapor and gas sampling, according to a separate poster board on display. Phase two of the site-wide soil vapor investigation, underneath the former manufacturing facility, is set to begin soon after it was discovered that a previously undetected, major contamination source was found.

Once that testing is complete, DNR will evaluate remediation or mitigation alternatives to address TCE in soil vapor underneath the facility. TCE can be removed from soil through a variety of methods including filtration, removal, chemical agents and even tiny organisms that can break down the chemical that comes from heavy steel cleaning supplies.

According to phase one of the site wide soil vapor investigation results, astronomical amounts of TCE were discovered in various depths and distances from the facility’s property line and in various areas of the residential neighborhood.

In one location, according to the graph, approximately 20-feet below the surface and within 10 feet of the facility, showed a measurement of 2,250 TCE in soil vapor (ug/m3). Approximately 20 feet below that sample, a measurement showed 16,800 units of TCE in the soil vapor. Approximately 420-feet away from the facility and merely 30-feet below the surface, a measurement showed 447,000 units of TCE.

In a separate graph pertaining to the southeast and northwest corridors of the facility, a TCE measurement of 1,270,000 was discovered approximately 10-feet from the property and 10-feet below the surface. Approximately 300-feet away at the same depth, a measurement of 134,000 units of TCE was discovered. Several of the top-soil samples were retested resulting in ranges from 3 units to thousands of units. It’s unclear why some samples were re-tested and others weren’t.

“That’s what concerns me, we’re hearing ‘oh it’s over with, it’s fine’ and then it gets worse and worse and you have to do a water filtration, air filtration,” Gohagen said. “You really have to get in there and study it to figure it out.”

The Lake Sun asked five random attendees if they could explain the soil gas results and its significance, but all five said they were confused by the sporadic data and requested explanations from DNR officials.

Gohagen wondered, if the Hulett Lagoon and Mulberry well super fund sites and the former facility are considered contaminated, how the residential neighborhood that lies in between, and flows naturally toward the lagoon, could be safe from contamination.

“We did find contamination on the sewer line, by Dawson Road it was gone,” the DNR rep. said.

One woman, who apparently lives in the affected area, but did not identify herself confronted this particular DNR representative regarding the Mulberry Well and Hulett Lagoon super fund sites. She said her property was discovered, after initial assessments were completed, to have contaminated groundwater underneath the porch of the residence and the DNR representative she was addressing had actually been the one to seal the well on her property.

“I asked the specific question, ‘Is this anything I’m ever going to have to worry about with my kids?’ You looked me in the face and said, ‘never in your life,’” she said with emotion. “Here we are 10 years later, which tells me DNR lies. Sorry that’s just how I feel.”