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Company Aims To Find Source Of Franklin Elementary School Contamination

By Rebecca Thiele, IPB News | Published on in Education, Environment, Statewide News
Webb Elementary school in Franklin (Steve Burns/WTIU)
Webb Elementary school in Franklin (Steve Burns/WTIU)

Franklin Community Schools hopes to find the source of contamination at two of its elementary schools. Tests showed high levels of the cancer-causing chemical TCE in vapor underneath the Needham and Webb buildings early last week. But samples inside were at levels the state considers safe.

Residents suspect exposure to TCE from nearby hazardous waste sites could be causing child cancers in the area.

The company that tested the schools, EnviroForensics, says it plans to test along a nearby sewer main as well as on the school grounds. It hopes to get some of the results back later this week.

“We’re not ready to say we’re done,” says Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett. “We’re not done. We’re not going to be done until we’re safe and proven that we’re safe.”

Franklin Community Schools Superintendent David Clendening says the district plans to spend about $300,000 to install equipment that will help lower TCE and PCE levels underneath the elementary schools.

“Our issue is not cost. Our issue is safety for our kids and ensuring that we are being proactive and innovative,” he says.

Mayor Barnett says the city also hopes to have a plan to remediate contamination that the Environmental Protection Agency found along Franklin’s sewers soon.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Franklin School Buildings Reopen Following Testing For Toxic Chemical

Indiana environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.