Groundwater vapor contamination related to a former Olde Towne Bellevue dry cleaning business poses immediate health threats to the area and has prompted federal action to clean up the site.
The Environmental Protection Agency will hold two public meetings related to the former Carriage Cleaners site, which sat on the corner of 22nd Avenue and Franklin Street.
The first meeting will be Tuesday from noon to 1 p.m. and the second will be Wednesday from 6 to 8 p.m. Both meetings will be at the Bellevue Volunteer Firefighters Hall at 2108 Franklin St.
Representatives from the EPA will answer questions about the site and help residents and property owners complete the access form for the agency to gather soil and air samples. The EPA sent out letters to people in the area.
The EPA wants to gather the samples to determine if buildings in the area need "vapor mitigation systems," which can include filling gaps in concrete and around pipes, plastic membranes or fans and pits that vent vapors outdoors.
Tests of the site and surrounding area have found "tetrachloroethylene (PCE) vapor intrusion issues" that pose "immediate threats to public health, welfare and the environment," according to the EPA.
PCE is commonly used in dry cleaning products and as a "degreaser" in manufacturing, according to the EPA, and was first detected in the area in 2017. The EPA says the vapors have the potential to enter into homes and commercial buildings through groundwater, usually through cracks in the foundation or basement walls.
Tests have also identified dangerous levels of trichloroethene, or TCE, a byproduct of PCE.
EPA's Region 7 office in Lenexa, Kansas, is handling the site. The levels of the chemicals detect in groundwater vapor prompted the office to use funding and an exemption on time limits to begin removal actions at the site.
Between 4,000 and 18,000 pounds of PCE waste were generated at the site between 1988 and 1992, according to the EPA. The business closed in 1995 when it declared bankruptcy and closed all of its metro area stores, according to news archives.
The site was designated an EPA Superfund site under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, which allows the agency to clean up contaminated sites.
Buckley Construction Co. currently owns the site and uses it for storage, according to property records and EPA documents.