- Associated Press - Sunday, July 3, 2016

LAS VEGAS (AP) - State officials who monitor chemical contamination at 40 sites in southern Nevada are now preparing for a large-scale cleanup at one that stemmed from a spill at a dry-cleaning shop more than three decades ago.

More than 200 homes sit atop a plume created years ago at a dry-cleaning operation, The Las Vegas Sun reported (http://bit.ly/29F2AWA). The cancer-causing chemical bled into groundwater after the spill in 1982, and officials say the plume now stretches more than a mile long. In some areas, PCE evaporated and turned into a gas, seeping into the air inside of homes.

The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection is working to begin extracting the perchloroethylene, or PCE, by spring of 2017. Recently, workers have installed mitigating systems to keep the chemical out of homes.

Donna Castaneda is one of several residents in the area who have been equipped with a system designed to funnel the chemicals accumulating underneath her home outside. In the corner of her bedroom closet, she has a tube that runs from the floor to the roof.

“This should have been taken care of,” said Castaneda, who moved to the area years before 1982.

Regulators are in the process of finalizing that plan with the former owners of the Maryland Square property, who were found responsible to pay for the cleanup.

A lawyer for the Herman Kishner Trust, which owned the shopping center at the time of the spill, controls the cleanup funds and represents the responsible parties, did not comment on how much each party or insurance plan will pay for cleanup.

Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, whose district includes Paradise Palms, said she understood the concerns about PCE in the neighborhood.

“I would say (concerns) are valid because there’s the ‘What if?’” she said. “But to date, my understanding, not being in the health business, is that they are safe.”

PCE frequently affects the central nervous system, but it can also cause damage to organs like the liver or kidneys after long-term exposure, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Information from: Las Vegas Sun, http://www.lasvegassun.com

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