Vapor intrusion sampling finished

T-L Photo/JENNIFER COMPSTON-STROUGH This area of downtown Bellaire is not contaminated with unsafe levels of tetrachloroethylene, according to results of a vapor intrusion study conducted after the chemical was discovered during drilling for a new well.

BELLAIRE — It appears residents in the downtown section of the village can breathe a sigh of relief after results of a study show levels of a chemical found in the area are not life-threatening.

But more testing could be conducted this winter.

State and federal environmental officials said they have not found unhealthy levels of chemicals related to a vapor intrusion study conducted in downtown Bellaire.

Rachel Bassler, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press officer for Region 5, said the EPA provided “all tenants and owners with results from its vapor intrusion sampling program conducted in August at their properties.”

“The agency has found no levels of (tetrachloroethylene) above the health-based screening levels at the properties tested. U.S. EPA has also shared these results with local, state, and federal health officials and with Ohio EPA.

“U.S. EPA is consulting with the health agencies and seeking their recommendation regarding whether additional sampling is warranted during the winter months since weather conditions can affect vapor intrusion,” Bassler said.

The agencies conducted groundwater and air testing in the village related to the chemicals used at a former dry cleaner in Bellaire. The environmental agencies identified some sources of groundwater and air contamination in the village. But the village’s drinking water, which comes from wells along the Ohio River, was safe to drink and not impacted.

The vapor study was conducted in downtown area of Bellaire between 32nd and 36th streets and Noble and Guernsey streets.

The chemical was discovered when the village was in the process of drilling a new well for additional drinking water capacity. Trace amounts of the chemical were discovered during testing, and the Ohio EPA said the village could not use that new well. Ohio EPA traced the chemical back to one source — a former dry cleaner on Guernsey Street. After additional testing at the building, vapors were discovered inside.

Investigators are not sure how the chemicals got into the groundwater but noted it could have been from spills over the years at the cleaning business, or the business may have been dumping it down drains. The cleaner has been closed for more than 20 years.

Bellaire’s other existing wells are fine, officials said, and the village is also receiving water from Belmont County make up for not being able to use the contaminated well.