Company to monitor for chemical in neighborhood

Springfield manufacturer says it will cleanup any contamination found from decades-old spill, safety No. 1 priority.

A Springfield manufacturing firm will monitor groundwater and collect air samples to determine if a more than 25-year-old chemical spill has migrated from its site to nearby homes as part of an extensive cleanup.

Cascade, which has about 170 employees, is working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to clean its site of trichloroethylene — often called TCE — a chemical typically used to clean and degrease metal. A spill of the chemical occurred there in 1988 and since then the company has monitored and treated groundwater on its site.

But it recently discovered that trace amounts of the chemical from that leak may be slowly migrating outside of its property. So the company will install additional monitoring wells throughout the neighborhood north and west of its 2501 Sheridan Ave. facility to track the chemical and perform any necessary cleanups of soil, groundwater and vapors.

The company has voluntarily worked with the EPA and health district to clean the site, said Rodney Hickman, plant manager at Cascade.

“This isn’t a cost-benefit decision,” Hickman said. “It’s a matter of it’s the right thing to do … The safety of our employees and of the community is No. 1.”

The 54-year-old Springfield manufacturing firm also will monitor 10 homes on Mayfair Drive for signs of vapor intrusion from the chemical. Solvents such as TCE can give off vapors that might seep into homes.

If traces of vapor from TCE are found, Hickman said the manufacturer will install a system in those homes to filter and clean the air at no cost to residents. Cascade recently installed a system to prevent vapor intrusion at its 200,000-square-foot plant as a precaution.

Soil gas screening levels, which indicate the amount of vapor from a chemical in the soil, shouldn’t exceed 7 micrograms per cubic meter, according to Dina Pierce, a spokeswoman from the Ohio EPA. The levels found near the Cascade facility were recorded at 480 micrograms per cubic meter, prompting the additional testing.

TCE can have several effects on humans, including dizziness, headaches and facial numbness, according to the EPA. Longer-term exposure has also been associated with several types of cancers, among other issues.

The chemical was once common in the manufacturing industry, but hasn’t been used at Cascade in decades.

The company, which manufactures attachments for fork and truck lifts, declined to disclose the costs of the monitoring and cleanup.

Air samples were taken at the Mayfair Drive homes last week, and the results should be available in two to four weeks, Hickman said. Additional air sampling at those homes this winter.

In April, the company also sent letters to about 100 residents near the site to notify them of the overall testing and cleanup efforts and provide information about the groundwater monitoring in the neighborhood.

Drinking water for those residents is safe and provided by the City of Springfield from wells on the northwestern edge of town, the Clark County Combined Health District and the EPA said.

Chris Clark’s Mayfair Drive home was tested for air quality. He met with company officials last week and the tests at his home were completed Thursday.

He has lived in the home 11 years and said he wasn’t concerned about the issue as long as the company monitors the situation and makes any necessary improvements if vapors are detected.

Cascade has a long history in Springfield and a has developed a good reputation in the community, said Mike Robbins, president of the Council of Neighborhood Associations in Springfield. That organization represents several neighborhood groups throughout the city.

The manufacturer appears to be doing the right thing by informing neighbors up front, Robbins said, and trying to resolve the issue.

“As long as they’re monitoring it and taking responsibility, I commend them,” he said.

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