Siegel said that citizens unsurprisingly have trouble analyzing the results of these tests and waiting for the results “often does not meet the needs of people who’ve been told that substances may cause cancer, birth defects, and other diseases have intruded into their homes.”

The executive director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight (CPEO), a part of the Pacific Studies Center in Mountain View, Calif. and an independent organization that facilitates public participation and education in regards to contamination from toxic chemicals, says that Camdenton residents have a cause for concern, but not to panic.

Lenny Siegel, who has been studying contamination sites and cleanup methods since the 1970s, visited Camdenton in August 2016, issuing an eight-page report in October 2016 explaining the history of the old manufacturing plant located at 221 Sunset Drive and current remediation efforts.

Siegel took interest in the site after reading the Lake Sun’s report of a public meeting in March 2016 in which citizens were dissatisfied with how the Missouri Department of Natural Resource explained test results and risks of tricholorethylene (TCE) contamination.

“The 120,000 square-foot former Modine plant, sits empty on a 67-acre property in a quiet, wooded residential neighborhood, but pre-1990 releases of TCE by a former owner still threaten the residents,” Siegel wrote in 2016. “MDNR is currently overseeing a robust, by-the-book vapor intrusion investigation. However, reviewing site documents after my visit, I found apparent shortcomings in the reponse. But, after sharing my draft with the regulators, I learned that they are already addressing those issues.”

In an e-mail interview with the Lake Sun, Siegel explained that the CPEO receives grant funding and now subcontracts funding from the U.S. EPA’s Brownfields program to provide technical assistance to communities. The current focus of which is vapor intrusion.

“Normally the local community groups with which I work either ask to submit comments to their local governments or use my material to submit comments of their own. Camdenton was unusual because there appears to be no organized community group,” Siegel wrote. “It appears that residents have cause for concern, but not to panic. There was one home with a sump problem. The former workers deserve help, but the system doesn’t serve them.”

According to Siegel’s report, the need for protective action is more than hypothetical.

“In August 2015 a potential purchaser reportedly began an environmental site assessment,” according to the report. “Without remediation and mitigation, any new use could expose workers and others to toxic vapors well above health standards.”

On April 11, MDNR held a public availability session regarding results of soil testing and indoor air testing from 2015 and 2016. According to MDNR, in December 2015, the indoor air was sampled at 10 homes with the number being tested growing to 21 homes by March 2016. These residences are located on Mulberry Drive, Sunset Drive and Bent Tree Lane. All homes in the program are required to be sampled for a total of four quarters, testing below the indoor air exceedence level before being allowed to exit.

“Of the other homes tested, two registered TCE indoors at 1.0 ug/m3, and one was right at the one-in-a-million excess lifetime cancer risk level of 0.48 ug/m3. These results are cause for concern, but not alarm,” Siegel wrote in the report. “The three soil vapor samples and one sewer manhole sample directly east of the Modine plane exceeded the soil gas screening level. In fact, at 119,000 ug/m3 one sample exceeded the instrument calibration range.”

Siegel said that citizens unsurprisingly have trouble analyzing the results of these tests and waiting for the results “often does not meet the needs of people who’ve been told that substances may cause cancer, birth defects, and other diseases have intruded into their homes.”

“I was pleased to see that they used U.S. EPA’s default attenuation factor (the ratio of indoor air concentrations to soil gas concentrations) of .03, leading to a residential soil gas screening level of 70 ug/m3,” Siegel noted. “There is no screening level for sewer gas, therefore the sewer gas results are being compared to the residential soil gas screening level of 70 ug/m3. In establishing the indoor air action level of 2 ug/m3 for TCE, MDNR referenced EPA Region 9’s 2014 memo describing the short-term risk that TCE may pose to the fetuses of pregnant women.”

Two months after the CPEO’s visit, in October 2016, MDNR approved a Site-Wide Investigation Work Plan.

“The purpose of this investigation is to further develop the Conceptual Site Model, and it is currently underway. The investigation includes the site-wide investigation of soil, groundwater, and soil vapor at the facility to assess potential sources and migration pathways contributing to residential vapor intrusion,” according to MDNR. “Vapor intrusion pathways from the subsurface to residential properties are also being investigated under this work plan.”

MDNR plans to continue into Phase 2 of the Sitewide Soil Investigation, focusing beneath the former facility where a large previously undetected source of TCE was discovered while also continuing residential sampling, exterior soil vapor and sewer gas samplings. Eventually, MDNR will provide a remediation or mitigation plan to address the TCE in soil vapor beneath the facility.

“The high levels of TCE inside the Modine Building should remind us of the unhealthy exposures suffered by workers there, during the use of TCE and even afterwards,” Siegel concluded. “When Sundstrand operated the facility, workers were directly exposed to TCE, even dipping their hands in it, and even after Modine took over and started using other solvents, they continued to breathe high levels of TCE intruding from the subsurface.”

The independent researcher wrote that he was “struck” by current efforts to support former workers affected by toxic chemical exposure.

“Despite the extensive investigations that have been and continue to be carried out at and near the Modine site, there is no program in place to help the people whose health appears to have been impacted by the TCE exposures that they experienced during their years working their,” Siegel noted. “Occupational exposures to workplace chemicals (by workers using those chemicals) fall under the jurisdiction of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), not MDNR or EPA. And while state and federal agencies often conduct health assessments in communities where people are or have been exposed to environmental contamination, there is no similar program to even study, let alone address, the health programs of former workers.”

Siegel reported that when he conducted his “Vapor Intrusion 101” workshop in Camdenton in 2016 it was attended by approximately 30 people, mostly former employees, who stayed well after the presentation concluded to ask more questions and relay potential concerns.

“Those in attendance told me than many were sick, and that many more were dead,” he noted.