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How long have TCE levels been elevated at County Building?

November 17, 2017 06:30 PM

ROCHESTER — A cancer causing chemical has been detected in a county office building where hundreds of people work. An internal memo, sent last week to Monroe County employees who work at 691 St. Paul Street, alerted them to TCE levels that exceed state health guidelines. While the levels are considered permissible, employees are understandably concerned.

News10NBC has learned that the county knew about the presence of TCE months before it actually told the employees who work there. “In my heart, in my gut I thought something was wrong in this building. When I got here in 2010 they were telling us not to drink the water, something was weird with the water,” recalls Anthony LiPetri.

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LiPetri says he saw people in Hazmat suits doing testing and knew across the street there was a decade-long investigation into the presence of cancer causing chemicals, stemming back to when the area was used for Bausch and Lomb's operations.

The NYSDEC told Monroe County about the TCE levels three months ago, so employees are wondering why the county didn’t pass the information along to employees who work inside at that point?

Jennifer Lewke (News10NBC): "What was the timing of that? When did you find out and when did you notify those employees?"

Cheryl Dinolfo (Monroe County Executive): "My understanding is that we conducted independent testing at 691 St. Paul, that would be important, once we were advised that there was a potential issue from migration of a plume from 690 to 691, we conducted that independent study once we received the test results saying that it was safe, we wanted to make sure that our people knew what was going on."

Jennifer Lewke: "Is there a specific time, do you know how many weeks or days or months that was?"

Cheryl Dinolfo: "I can get that information Jennifer but I do know we acted immediately."

The county says it was notified by the DEC of the TCE in late August, it commissioned its own testing in early September and got the results in early October. The county and DEC then agreed on a corrective plan the first week of November and notified employees on November 8.

Jennifer Lewke: "You believe that the people working in that building are safe with the current conditions?"

Cheryl Dinolfo: "We have been advised by the state that it is incredibly okay for our employees to be there and it is safe within acceptable safety levels for heath requirements.  That being said, the safety of our employees and the public is incredibly important to us and to me as county executive so we'll continue working with the state."

In a statement to News10NBC, a DEC spokeswoman says, “The New York State Departments of Environmental Conservation and Health will participate in meetings hosted by Monroe County to share information with the public about remedial measures underway at these sites. Levels of TCE and other site related contaminants detected in the indoor air of the 175 Martin Street School and its off-site office building at 691 do not represent an immediate exposure concern for the students or staff.”

DOH and DEC staff, along with representatives from Monroe County Health are scheduled to meet with staff of the 691 Saint Paul Street building on November 30.

Credits

Jennifer Lewke

Copyright 2017 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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