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Fairport taxpayers demanding answers, action from the DEC amid chemical concerns

In a letter sent to neighbors, Qualitrol said a chemical found on-site may be leaking into groundwater (WHAM photo)

Some neighbors in Fairport are demanding answers and action from the DEC after contamination was found at a nearby industrial site in 2012.

Taxpayers are concerned about the spread of a chemical.

Greg Brooks lives in Fairport, next door to Qualitrol.

He says the company sent him a letter over two years ago, telling him about a chemical found on the site that could be spreading in the groundwater.

“As a homeowner, you have kids and family members and animals and neighbors, and you kind of wonder, how big is this problem? It’s not just my house, but it's in the surrounding area,” said Brooks.

The DEC says the chemical is trichloroethylene, or TCE. It's a solvent used for cleaning machines.

It was discovered during construction at the site in 2012, and the DEC says it has been in the soil for decades.

Qualitrol has been working to clean it up.

“The primary concern is soil vapor associated with TCE,” said Bernette Schilling, the regional hazardous waste remediation engineer at the DEC. “It has migrated off-site in the groundwater. So this is a concern because the soil vapor contaminated with the TCE can collect in the soil below the foundations of the homes and can find a pathway into the homes, in the lower level of the homes, typically.”

The DEC says it's been testing the area for the chemical and, so far, no traces have been found in homes.

But Brooks is concerned about what he doesn’t know.

“It's there and is just gnawing," said Brooks. "It's something we're having to deal with and that we feel like we haven't had a whole lot of power. We all are on septic systems, so all that water goes out into the lawn. It absolutely crosses your mind every time you are at home, whether you're inside or out.”

He believes the state has been slow to address the continued contamination.

“The plume may be going in different directions, you're having to figure that out. But the source of the spill, you know where that is," he said. "Why are you not putting something down, to at least get some of it so it's not continuing to spread, at least any new contamination?"

Brooks hopes to get answers at Wednesdays meeting. “There's still damage that was done not only to our properties, but as individuals, we've been very concerned over these last two years, and anyone who's interested in selling their property is going to have to explain, 'Well what's this history here?' Even though it’s been cleaned up, are you going to pay the same price as you would for a house that was never contaminated? Probably not.”

It is unclear who is responsible for the TCE, but the DEC says Qualitrol is working with them to clean it up.

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