EPA hosts meeting to discuss Waterloo contaminants - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

EPA hosts meeting to discuss Waterloo contaminants


Residents who live near the old Chamberlain Manufacturing site, which left several chemical contaminants behind, expressed their concern that the contaminants are spreading to nearby homes Tuesday evening in Waterloo.

Patricia Gray lives near the site, and has been noticing some strange smells in her home.

"My home tested high at one point," said Gray. "Upstairs and downstairs. So that means it was in our living area where we sleep, eat."

Officials said the smells are caused by chemicals seeping up through the ground – chemicals that could be harmful if concentrated enough.

That's why the Environmental Protection Agency sponsored the meeting for concerned residents like Gray.

The main contaminants are trichloroethylene (TCE) and tetrachloroethylene (PCE).

"Both are degreasing solvents that are commonly used in manufacturing to remove grease and so forth," said Jeff Johnson of the EPA. "PCE also is used in dry cleaning."

In high-enough concentrations, those chemicals can be harmful.

However, officials say ventilation systems can keep concentrations low. Eight homes near the plant have received similar systems.

Waterloo councilman Quentin Hart lives in the affected area. He came to the meeting out of concern for his family and neighbors.

He said he hopes it doesn't hurt development, which he noted is critical for the area.

"This was actually one of my top priorities when I first started," Hart said. "Just from a personal standpoint, having children in the area, wanting to see how our community looks, and making sure the contaminations aren't in a position where it hurts people."

The EPA continues to monitor the levels in the area.

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