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EPA may expedite cleanup for Sporlan Valve Plant Superfund site in Washington

An illustration of pollution, 2017
Rici Hoffarth
St. Louis Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed adding the former site of a refrigerator-valve manufacturing facility in Washington, Missouri, to its National Priorities List.

Superfund sites that are added to the National Priorities List are eligible for federal funding for cleanup. The former site of the Sporlan Valve Plant, operational from 1939 until 1968, used industrial chemical solvents to make refrigerator parts.

Harmful contaminants such as benzene and trichloroethylene — or TCE — remained in the soil and groundwater over several decades. Exposure to such chemicals can cause cancer and damage to multiple organs.

TCE in shallow groundwater can become a vapor that enters nearby buildings. Federal resources are needed to address vapor intrusion because it is a challenging type of contamination, said Heath Smith, the EPA’s on-site coordinator for the Sporlan Plant site.

“Being able to get the site on the [National Priorities List] allows those resources to be employed to remove the contamination and clean up the site up faster,” Smith said.

EPA officials estimated in 2016 that pollution from the site could have affected as many as 25 homes. After a community forum that took place that year, federal agency officials have installed vapor-intrusion-mitigation systems for 19 houses near the site.

A map pointing to a Superfund site in Washington, Mo.
Credit Mapbox, OpenStreetMap
The former site of the Sporlan Valve Plant is at 611 E. 7th St. in central Washington, Missouri. EPA officials have been helping nearby residents address potential contaminants from the site that could have caused indoor pollution in their homes.

The possible addition of the site to the EPA National Priorities List could ease concerns for residents in central Washington, said Sal Maniaci, the city’s community and economic development director.

“They’ll be happy to know that if it’s added to the National Priorities List, it’s expediting that process, and we’ll be able to clean up the site and get it redeveloped,” Maniaci said.

Parker Hannifin, an Ohio-based technology company, is responsible for the site, since it acquired Sporlan Valve Company in 2004. The federal agency plans to confirm the site’s listing in spring 2019.

Follow Eli on Twitter: @StoriesByEli

Eli is the science and environment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.