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EPA Watchdog: Agency Misleading Homebuyers About Franklin Contamination

Kari Rhineheart with If It Was Your Child.

At an EPA OIG listening session in May, Kari Rhineheart with If It Was Your Child asks if she should have sold her home in Franklin to protect her family. (Rebecca Thiele/IPB News)

The Environmental Protection Agency may be misleading potential homebuyers about contamination in Franklin. That’s according to an alert issued Thursday by the EPA's internal watchdog, the Office of Inspector General. 

The EPA’s Cleanups in My Community website helps people looking to buy or sell a home to know about hazardous waste sites in the area.

Right now, it says that human exposure and groundwater issues at the old Amphenol industrial site are under control. But the OIG’s director of land cleanup and waste management audits, Tina Lovingood, says the EPA knows that’s not true and hasn’t updated the website since it found the error last fall.

“They’re waiting for sampling results to come in before they change it, was the explanation they gave to us,” she says.

But Lovingood says it should have been corrected sooner. Last year the EPA found cancer-causing chemicals had migrated south of the Amphenol site — contaminating areas around sewer lines and some homes.

READ MORE: 'No One Told Me': Franklin Residents To EPA Internal Watchdog  

Community advocates like Stacie Davidson with If It Was Your Child believe pollution from toxic sites in the area may be causing child cancers in Franklin.

“I would want to watch this community and say, ‘Is this cleaned up and what steps are they doing to make me comfortable in the fact, if I was going to move into a community — any community, not just Franklin,” she says.

A recent report from Edison Wetlands Association suggests there may be more pollution north of the Amphenol site and along Hurricane Creek. The EPA is still reviewing that report.

As for this alert from the OIG, the EPA has 15 days to respond to the report — including how it plans to address the OIG’s concerns.

Residents can report issues regarding the Franklin investigation to the EPA OIG at 888-546-8740.

Indiana Environmental reporting is supported by the Environmental Resilience Institute, an Indiana University Grand Challenge project developing Indiana-specific projections and informed responses to problems of environmental change.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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