- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

GRENADA, Miss. (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency said it will sample air inside and around homes in a Grenada neighborhood and also test area groundwater as it checks for pollutants from the former Grenada Manufacturing site.

The EPA statement said air, soil and water samples would be taken at the site to help guide cleanup efforts.

The agency said it has found contaminated groundwater, but added there was no immediate threat to public health because the city water system is not contaminated. It said more investigation is needed to learn the extent of trichloroethylene (TRY-kloh-roh-ETH-uh-leen) contamination at and around the plant, now Grenada Stamping.

The EPA classifies the chemical, also called TCE, as a carcinogen that can cause blood, kidney and liver cancer, according to the agency’s website.

The chemical is a solvent used to clean metal parts. It’s a common contaminant of ground water, and can vaporize through soil and into the air, according to Monday’s news release.

Neighborhood residents have told The Clarion-Ledger (https://on.thec-l.com/1Rxzkm0) there have been 68 cases of cancer among 225 long-time residents.

Some have filed lawsuits. Their attorneys retained toxicologist Michael Nicar, who said in a report that a cancer rate triple the national average indicates likely exposure to cancer-causing chemicals.

EPA has been investigating and directing cleanup at the site since 1991, and is concerned that a groundwater treatment called a permeable reactive barrier near the Eastern Heights neighborhood may not be working correctly, according to the statement.

Tests in September and February found contaminated groundwater in part of the neighborhood, but the public water supply is not contaminated, it wrote.

It said the federal agency would collect samples in April at the factory, Riverdale Creek and city-owned property, and would also conduct a survey to identify any private drinking water wells.

In May, it plans to use 24-hour air samplers in 18 houses, and will use a mobile laboratory for other air samples.

U.S. Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., said he’s pleased that EPA plans more tests, but is worried about residents’ current safety.

“I am troubled by the fact that EPA needs additional investigation of a plant site that remains contaminated without a remediation plan in place to remove the contaminants,” he said in an emailed statement.

He added: “Upon completion of these new investigations, I hope that EPA will put to rest any doubt that there are harmful contaminants and if those contaminants are still present, I implore the agency to move rapidly and aggressively so that the citizens of Grenada can be assured that satisfactory health conditions and living quality will be restored.”

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Online:

EPA on trichloroethylene: https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris2/chemicalLanding.cfm?substance_nmbr=199

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