Donnelly Calls on EPA to Take Over Investigation and Cleanup Efforts in Johnson County Following IDEM’s Failure to Act

Following a report IDEM was made aware in 2013 that toxins had migrated from Amphenol site, and another that provided further indication of potentially harmful contamination, Senator calls for EPA to take full control

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take over full control of the investigation and cleanup efforts for any contamination resulting from the Amphenol Corporation and Webb Wellfield sites in Franklin, Indiana. Recent reports have shown that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) and the City of Franklin knew as far back as 2013 that trichloroethylene (TCE) had migrated off the Amphenol site. IDEM appears to have taken no action following that 2013 report, despite TCE being a known carcinogen.

Donnelly said, in part, in his letter, “…new information has come to light that raises more concerns, including additional test results indicating elevated and harmful levels of contamination in or near the homes of area residents. In addition, public records indicate that local officials were aware of contamination potentially migrating off the sites several years ago. As a result, I am writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency take over full control of the investigation and remediation… I ask that you take every available action at your disposal to ensure the health and safety of the residents of Franklin.”

Today’s letter is the latest in Donnelly’s ongoing efforts to assist families in Johnson County, where nearly 60 children in the last ten years have been diagnosed with rare forms of blood and brain cancer. He has consistently pressed the Administration to update the guidelines for providing communities, including Franklin in Johnson County, with assistance in the investigation of potential cancer clusters. In August, Donnelly spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of supporting efforts to make sure Hoosiers have confidence their communities are safe. Last month, President Trump signed into law a Donnelly-led provision providing the funds necessary to update cancer cluster investigation guidelines, as was required by Trevor’s Law.

To read Donnelly’s full letter to the EPA today, read below or click here.

November 16, 2018

Mr. Andrew Wheeler

Acting Administrator

Environmental Protection Agency

Dear Acting Administrator Wheeler,

I previously wrote to you in July of this year regarding environmental test results in the communities surrounding the Amphenol Corporation and Webb Wellfield sites in Franklin, Indiana. Since then, new information has come to light that raises more concerns, including additional test results indicating elevated and harmful levels of contamination in or near the homes of area residents. In addition, public records indicate that local officials were aware of contamination potentially migrating off the sites several years ago. As a result, I am writing to request that the Environmental Protection Agency take over full control of the investigation and remediation of any contamination resulting from the Amphenol Corporation and Webb Wellfield sites.

In late September, it was reported that the most recent test results coordinated by the City of Franklin found sewer backfill vapor samples with levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) that were as high as 252 times the safe limit set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). Test results also showed sewers with levels of tetrachloroethylene (PCE) as much as 53 times of IDEM’s limit for residential soil gas screening. Both of these substances are well known as carcinogenic. Even more concerning is the discovery that in 2013, TCE was found during the cleanup of an underground storage tank nearby the Amphenol site and that it was reported to IDEM and other public officials that the TCE was presumed to have migrated from the Amphenol site. Despite these reports, however, no further action seems to have been taken to prevent the migration of TCE.

As you know, the residents of Franklin and Johnson County have expressed concerns about the contamination, as well as elevated rates of childhood cancers. The people of Johnson County deserve to have confidence in the safety of their homes and communities. In light of the new test results and absent meaningful efforts by the State of Indiana to address the contamination, I am requesting that the EPA assume the responsibility of investigating and fully remediating any contamination resulting from the Amphenol Corporation and Webb Wellfield sites. I ask that you take every available action at your disposal to ensure the health and safety of the residents of Franklin.

Sincerely,

Joe Donnelly

United States Senator 

###