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Correction: SANDUSKY, OH – TCE Plume

May 20, 2009


It came to our attention, from a concerned reader, that a Phase I and II assessment had been performed on the Keller Building and surrounding properties, and that a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) is being recommended by the Brownfield Committee for the TCE Plume. Details of this development are explained below in a correspondence with Haag Environmental Company that outline the past and present events. This correction is to ensure our readers that action is being taken to respond to the TCE Plume, and not to mislead any speculation about the issue. 

TCE Plume _Page_19TCE Plume _Page_22


Keller Building Tower

Keller Building Tower

1. A Phase I assessment was already performed, by Environmental Design Group (EDG), for the Keller, Chesapeake and Tricor properties.





Haag Environmental Company (

2. A Phase II assessment was also already performed, by EDG, for the Keller, Chesapeake and Tricor properties.  The Phase II assessment identified TCE and associated vapor intrusion as a hazard for people who would live in the Keller building.

3. The Keller, Chesapeake and Tricor studies identified the TCE plume as originating off any of the three study sites (Keller, Chesapeake, Tricor).  Those studies provided HaagEnviro with enough data to draw the plume, however.  We can clearly see that the plume centers on the Decatur Street parking lot, next door to the Keller building.

4. The Brownfields Committee, led by HaagEnviro, recommended that the City use its USEPA grant to pay Partners Environmental to do a Phase I assessment of the Decatur Street parking lot.  Partners Environmental is now executing that Phase I study.

5. Following the Decatur Street parking lot Phase I assessment, the Brownfields Committee has recommended that Partners should perform a Phase II study on the Decatur Street parking lot.

6. Following the Phase II assessment, the Brownfields Committee will likely recommend that Partners should prepare a Remedial Action Plan (RAP), for a remedial system to remove the TCE source in the Decatur Street parking lot.

7. The City will use the RAP to apply for a cleanup grant, possibly from the Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF).  If awarded, this COAF grant will then be used to hire contractors to install a TCE remedial system, most likely a soil vapor extration (SVE) system, or an air-sparging system, or both.  These remedial systems may extend off of the parking lot, out to the adjacent Keller, Chesapeake and Tricor properties.

8.  Once the TCE source is removed from the Decatur Street parking lot and adjacent areas, the Keller building will no longer have the potential to cause people living there to be exposed to TCE.

Best regards,

Bob Haag, Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist

Haag Environmental Company (

Is there a risk to pedestrians?

– Correspondence with Haag Environmental Company.

There is effectively no risk for pedestrians walking around the Keller building or Tricor property, because there is plenty of open space and air movement to dilute the TCE and to carry it away.

The issue arises inside the Keller building, where the vapors can seep in, and be contained.  One of the City’s prior consultants performed indoor air modeling studies, using the Johnson & Ettinger (J&E) model.  This model takes the values found in the subsurface, and predicts what concentrations will result inside the overlying building.  The J&E modeling led the consultant to conclude that the contaminant levels inside the Keller building would be unacceptable, so that some form of interceptor system would be required.

As you know, we have planned to install either an inteceptor system or, better yet, to completely remove the source of the TCE and associated contaminants. 

Best regards,

Bob Haag, Vice President and Principal Hydrogeologist

A Clearer View of TCE 
Evidence Supports Autoimmune Link

published in EHP & Disseminated by The Erie Wire 

More than 80 known or suspected autoimmune disorders—such as Crohn disease, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis—affect 5–8% of the U.S. population, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The underlying causes of these disorders remain largely unknown, but one agent suspected to play a role is trichloroethylene (TCE), a solvent widely used in industrial and household applications. Researchers from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Assessment and the Medical University of South Carolina searched the scientific literature for studies linking TCE with selected immunologic connections, including immunosuppression, hypersensitivity, and autoimmune-related effects [EHP 117:696–702; Cooper et al.]. On the basis of their review, the authors concluded that the evidence to date in mice and humans supports an etiologic role of TCE in autoimmune disorders.

Substantial evidence from mechanistic, clinical, and epidemiologic studies indicates that exposure to TCE and/or its metabolites (including chloral hydrate, trichloracetic acid, trichloracetaldehyde hydrate, and dichloracetyl chloride) could influence the incidence of autoimmune disorders. Research on autoimmune mouse models, including the MRL+/+ lupus mouse, has provided strong and consistent support for a role of TCE; this has included studies of exposures at environmentally relevant concentrations through multiple routes (inhalational, dermal, and oral). Studies of humans with high occupational or environmental exposures have also shown links between TCE and inflammatory immune responses, systemic sclerosis (scleroderma), and a severe generalized hypersensitivity skin disorder.

However, the authors also point out major gaps in our knowledge of TCE’s effects on the immune system. In particular, data pertaining to measures of immunosuppression in humans are very limited, and potential effects of age or sex on susceptibility to autoimmune-related effects of TCE exposures, as well as effects of variation in exposure dose, timing, and duration, have yet to be established.

Because individual autoimmune diseases are relatively rare, it is difficult to assemble enough cases to conduct adequately powered epidemiologic research. However, the authors assert that the findings of recent experimental and observational studies of TCE provide a strong rationale for developing multisite collaborations to address the potential influence of TCE and other solvents on the incidence of autoimmune disorders. Such research would be facilitated by the establishment of state and national autoimmune disease registries.

Bob Weinhold

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