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Elmwood Park homeowners concerned about property value after chemical spill

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ELMWOOD PARK, MO (KTVI)-- Elmwood Park homeowners wonder if their property value will be as toxic as the chemical moving underground.

Some of the families have lived in Elmwood Park for two and three generations.  Others bought property recently.  Now they can't decide if the home of their dreams is an ugly nightmare.

At a neighborhood meeting, representatives from state and federal agencies discuss health risks associated with T.C.E.  or tri chloro ethylene.

The current owners of a nearby business acknowledge the toxic chemical came from their plant.  Spills occurred under the previous owner.  Toxins are in the ground.

High level TCE exposure impacts the central nervous system, the immune system as well as kidney and liver function

The Environmental Protection Agency is taking groundwater and indoor air samples.   Toxins enter the home through vapor intrusion.

Valerie West stopped paying her mortgage last summer after learning about the contamination.

Her mother died of cancer and her son now has a heart condition.  It’s located less than a block from the plant.   She bought it in November 2000.  The seller was the St. Louis County Housing Authority.  The contamination was not disclosed according to West.

The letter from the Department of Natural Resources to the housing authority says chemicals: "Have been found in the Groundwater.  DNR will be investigating areas near Elmridge Place and Wishart Place."   Valerie’s house is on Elmridge

Two months later DNR sent another letter saying: "Volatile organic compounds are present in the groundwater beneath these homes."

This week the new director of the St. Louis County Housing Authority issues this statement regarding Valerie’s concerns:

"The types of voc's present were common pollutants found in groundwater in urban areas at very low concentrations. The contamination posed no danger.”

The EPA continues testing groundwater and indoor air.  But only a few properties at a time are sampled.   In the meantime, homeowners say their property value plummets and the health  risks remain uncertain.