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Toxics Targeting in the News

State admits Emerson slip-ups

ITHACA - State officials acknowledged Thursday that they need to "fix" their handling of the contaminated former Morse Chain site and their communications with affected residents.

Speaking at a public hearing on the infiltration of toxic vapors into indoor air, G. Anders Carlson, director of the Division of Environmental Health Investigation for the state Department of Health, cited the need for more effective dialogue with neighbors and a more aggressive approach to pursuing remediation of the site.

A brief history of the Emerson Power Transmission site

1928 - 1983: Borg Warner owns the company and building on Aurora Street known as Morse Chain, which manufactures automotive components. Prior to 1983, Morse Industrial uses the solvent trichlorethene, or TCE, to degrease metal parts.

1983: The plant is purchased by Emerson and becomes Emerson Power Transmission.

1987: Investigations reveal TCE has leaked into soil and groundwater from an underground fire water reservoir on the property. Emerson reports the spill to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Editorial: TCE hearing: Why are we here today?

Good morning Chairman Tom DiNapoli, Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton and the rest of the state Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee.

First, thank you for coming to town to hear testimony about local soil contamination issues, most notably the still growing investigation into the release of trichloroethene -- the now infamous substance called TCE -- into
the ground on the hillside overlooking the city of Ithaca's south side. The weight and the light this committee's public hearing will bring to this insidious public health threat is desperately needed.

Editorial: Ithaca can be a model

In the year since I brought pollution hazards at the former Morse Chain factory to the public's attention, it has become apparent that coping with the site's lingering problems will be extraordinarily challenging. That is why I believe residents, responsible parties, government authorities and plant workers must do their utmost to forge a favorable resolution to this matter without further delay.

State to host contamination hearing

ITHACA -- Ken Deschere's rare throat cancer has been attributed to unknown origins. Diagnosed in 2003, Deschere has looked at his past and questioned what sources could have caused the mutation.

State committee to host hearing on local pollution

ITHACA -- Members of the state Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee will hold a public hearing in Ithaca later this month to examine the impact of soil and groundwater contamination on human health.

Residents getting no satisfaction from state, Emerson

ITHACA -- With only one house between his home and the test zone, Rick Grossman has been pushing hard to have his family's Park Street residence examined for contamination that originated at the former Morse Chain plant. So far, all he has been told is that two monitoring wells are going in nearby.

Emerson to expand water testing

ITHACA -- Documents recently filed at the Tompkins County Public Library indicate that Emerson Power Transmission is adding two groundwater monitoring wells to the initially planned seven when construction begins next week.

Editorial: Emerson, TCE and DEC Healthy cynicism prods government

More than a decade ago, experts from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation labeled a swath of Ithaca's South Hill as a "Class 4" hazardous waste site.

In the jargon of environmental cleanup, "Class 4" essentially means "case closed." The conservation department decided that levels of chemicals that were spilled decades ago by the former Morse Chain plant were at levels that posed an insignificant risk.