Lifton TCE Legislation Passes Assembly

Measure will provide test results in a timely manner
May 11, 2006

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) announced that legislation she sponsored to shorten the turnaround time between testing a home for TCE and notification of results passed the Assembly today (A.10633). This legislation will help end a delay that’s a source of frustration for South Hill homeowners who, in the most recent round of tests, had to wait two months or more for results.

“Getting test results in one month instead of two will help ease residents’ concerns about their family’s well-being,” Lifton said. “I urge the Senate to act quickly on this measure.”

TCE, a chemical considered carcinogenic to humans, is found in contaminated soil and groundwater. TCE seeps into homes as vapor gas, called vapor intrusion. Homes in the South Hill community have detected TCE vapor intrusion as a result of a chemical degreaser that has seeped into area soil and groundwater. The former Morse Chain plant, which is now owned by Emerson Power Transmission, used a chemical degreaser containing TCE to clean chains it manufactured.

Lifton, a member of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, has continually worked to address concerns of South Hill residents who have been left in the dark on test results, have no clear-cut answers about the amount of TCE considered dangerous, and have listened to endless equivocal debate about how to monitor and stop vapor intrusion.

The Assembly held a public hearing in Ithaca last year and recently released a report, “Vapor Intrusion of Toxic Chemicals: An Emerging Public Health Concern,” summarizing findings in Ithaca and across the state. Lifton said the report helped address the frustration of Ithaca residents over the lack of information from state agencies and responsible parties and from the uncertainty they face while waiting for test results.

Lifton co-sponsored another bill that also passed the Assembly today requiring that landlords tell renters about contaminants or vapor intrusion (A.10120-B). “Without this bill, the Department of Environmental Conservation requires that homeowners have to be told, but landlords do not have to notify renters of known contamination,” Lifton said. “This legislation will ensure notification to all occupants regardless of ownership.”

“Even with these measures, the state needs to take a more proactive approach to solving vapor intrusion and giving residents better information about TCE,” she said. “We must continue to be vigilant and work to protect the health and well-being of our families and neighborhoods.”