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Environmental Protection Agency meets with Bellevue residents about possible chemical contamination

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jan 21, 2020

BELLEVUE, Neb. (KMTV) — There is concern in Bellevue after the Environmental Protection Agency notified 125 property owners that their property may be contaminated with a carcinogen known as PCE and it's byproduct TCE.

On Tuesday afternoon, the EPA held a meeting with worried residents to discus what they knew about the problem, the chemical's harm and how they proposed to mitigate the situation. According to the EPA, around 1995 the former Carriage Cleaners on Franklin Street went bankrupt and over the following years its toxic waste stopped getting disposed of properly. In 2017, a new owner of the property tested the soil and let the EPA know of its issues.

"When we see high levels of these particular chemicals it represents a particular exposure issue over time," said Michael Davis, an on-scene coordinator with the EPA. "The levels that we've seen so far in indoor air have been extremely low. We haven't seen widespread issues with indoor air contamination."

"We don't know what we've been breathing in for the last four years, there are other people that have lived here longer than we have," said Kristian Farland, a Bellevue resident. Farland, her husband and her two kids moved in to their home four years ago.

"I'm honestly terrified," Farland said. "If it's in the ground water and in our food and now we're eating that stuff."

What the EPA wants to do is test out the vapor levels in the area homes. If there are high levels, they plan to add a vapor mitigation system which will help keep the levels low inside the house.

"It sucks the air from underneath the building and in to the atmosphere so it doesn't accumulate," Davis said.

Farland told 3 News Now she plans on putting in the vapor mitigation system if the EPA recommends to do so. She said she wished she knew of the contamination before she moved in to the region.

"If we would've known there was this kind of concern we would've bought one elsewhere," Farland said.

The EPA is currently in the process of requesting permission to test out sites. The goal is to know how far the contamination has spread and how dangerous it may be for residents in the next year.

Watch reporter Phil Bergman's story in the above video.