Lifton Legislation Will Quicken TCE Testing Turn-Around Time for South Hill Homes

Emerson Power Transmission will provide more mitigation for TCE
April 6, 2006

Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton (D/WFP-Tompkins/Cortland) announced that she has introduced legislation to shorten the turn-around time between testing a home for TCE and notification of results – helping 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 for results (A.10633).

“My bill requires test results in one month instead of two, which will help allay residents’ concerns,” Lifton said.

TCE, a chemical considered carcinogenic to humans, is found in contaminated soil and groundwater. TCE seeps into homes as vapor gas, called vapor intrusion. Testing in the South Hill neighborhood has shown TCE vapor intrusion due to 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 discussion 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.

“I was pleased with the news last month that Emerson will be doing more testing and mitigation of homes at a stricter standard,” Lifton said. “I am pushing for an even stricter standard (.016 to .02 mcg/m3) as a state standard, but it’s a major step in the right direction and a show of good faith.”

Lifton is also co-sponsoring a bill to require that landlords tell renters about contaminants or vapor intrusion (A.10120). “Right now, homeowners have to be told, but renters don’t,” Lifton said. “The measure will help protect renters as well.”

“More work needs to be done,” Lifton said. “The state needs to take a more proactive approach to solve vapor intrusion and give residents better information about TCE,” she said. “Residents want to know about the impact on their health and what they can do about it. A public health plan needs to be in place. I will continue working to ensure protection for our families and neighborhoods.”