Sporlan Valve Plant
The Sporlan Valve Plant was active in Washington, MO beginning in 1939. In 2004 the company was sold, (without the property in question) to Parker Hannifin. SV Land, LLC purchased the physical property in December of 2004. In 2011, the brick building and concrete slabs were demolished and removed. In the map above, they are outlined in red on the north side of 6th street, which is where the darkest red spots are.
The Sporlan Valve Plant made valves, and the equipment at the facility required cleaning. Sporlan Valve used a chemical called trichloroethylene (TCE), which was stored outside in large metal tanks on small concrete slabs. Unfortunately, these tanks leaked, (and some of the cleaning may have also happened outside) and so large amounts of TCE leeched into the ground around the facility. Over the years, the rain helped move the TCE deeper into the ground, as well as spreading it to the south and the east. The graphic below shows the depth of the contamination, and some of the spread as well.
The problem with TCE is that when it is exposed to air, it quickly becomes vapor. In the outdoors, this vapor is usually not a problem. Wind moves enough to keep the concentration of particles low. However, in the affected areas, we see this vapor in households. It seeps in through crawl spaces, through cracks in foundations, and into basements, where it can grow to levels that are not safe for humans.
I spoke with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services last night, and discovered that TCE has been linked with 3 kinds of cancers – Liver, Kidney, and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. There may be others as well, conclusive studies have not been done.
The EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources wants to put this on the National Priority List (NPL), which is a way to ensure that funding is supplied to find a solution. The community of Washington needs to show that it supports this action. Right now, land owners in the affected area are unable to sell their property for what the land is worth. At the meeting, one citizen spoke up that they were able to sell their home. They were not in the “red” area on the map, but were on 6th street. Even then, they had to install an expensive mitigation system as a condition of selling the home.
If this Superfund site can be put on the NPL, (which requires Governor concurrent approval and a State Legislature willing to help cover the costs of cleanup) then the EPA can do full studies to figure out exactly where all of the contamination is, and come up with proposals that will effectively clean the area of TCE, so that it is no longer a threat. Some of that could involve removing soil, or using the already-dug wells to heat the nearby ground, burning off the TCE.
If the site is not put on the NPL, then there is no recourse for local cleanup under current law and funding from the state. This would be the 34th site put on the NPL in Missouri.
What can you do?
Help out by keeping informed. I spoke with several citizens last night, and a Citizens Advisory Group will be made. We will have a Facebook Page created, as well as a website. There will be detailed meeting information and activities that we can all do. These will help ensure this Superfund site is moved to the NPL.
If you have questions, you can reach out to me, and I’ll do my best to find you information, or put you in touch with the people you need to.
You should also contact Dave Schatz, Paul Curtman, and the other candidates who are running for the 109th district. This is a concern that everyone should take seriously. Our community deserves to have this taken care of.
I’ll do my best to keep you informed on this situation. I have contact info for people at the EPA, MoDNR, and Health and Senior Services. I plan to reach out to them regularly until this is resolved.