By Sam Jack
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is assessing possible vapor intrusion tied to contamination from the former American Cleaners dry cleaner in Haysville.
A letter regarding the vapor intrusion assessment was reviewed by the Haysville City Council Oct. 22, and plans were also discussed at a KDHE public availability session at Haysville High School, held concurrently.
“Vapor assessments look at vapor intrusion (aka sub surface intrusion) potential and is evaluated by collecting air samples from the home, soil and ambient air,” KDHE drycleaning superfund program manager Benjamin Haring wrote to the city council. “This routine assessment determines whether chemicals in the ground water have volatized or ‘off-gassed’ and made its way up to the ground surface.”
Preliminary data shows a low risk of vapor intrusion and resulting air pollution, according to Haring. Confirmed groundwater contamination led to more than 200 homes being connected to the city of Haysville water system.
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Maria Pacheco, one of the leaders of a group called Haysville Strong that has been tracking the contamination issue, said she is skeptical that vapor testing will pick up anything today, in 2018.
“I think that what everybody needs to remember is that the height of toxicity was between 1978 and 1996. Twenty-two years after the contamination effectively stopped… They can go ahead and test it to make sure it’s safe for the people living there now, but I’m sure that those numbers were drastically different back in the 1980s and 1990s, when my generation was growing up.”
Bob Jurgens, director of the KDHE’s bureau of environmental remediation, said there isn’t enough data to say whether contamination levels or toxicity were higher in the past.
“There’s not enough long-term monitoring information to say it may have been higher or it may not have been. Neither one of us can say with any real, scientific knowledge that that was a concern,” he said. “With the uncertainty, I think there’s a lot of concern out there from residents, so hopefully we can get some more information to put them at ease a little bit.”
The KDHE assessment will target a representative number of homes in the area of concern, based on building construction type, location relative to the groundwater contamination plume and depth of the groundwater.
“The initial phase of the assessment is in the planning stages, and KDHE project staff have been contacting property owners at approximately 15 homes,” Haring wrote. “KDHE’s goal is (to) conduct sampling in November. This vapor intrusion assessment approach is consistent with how many contaminated sites are evaluated throughout Kansas.”