By Julie Watts


RIPON (CBS13) — Moms of kids with cancer are finally getting some answers following concerns over contaminated water and air.

Unfortunately, these answers are raising more questions. As parents in Ripon expected they might find one cancer-causing chemical when Nestle performed soil vapor testing, as instructed by the Regional Water Boards. Instead, test results show another related, but different cancer-causing chemical in the air.

READ MORE: Cancer-Causing Chemical Found In School Drinking Fountain, Parents Weren’t Notified

First, parents were concerned about the cell tower on campus after four kids at Weston Elementary were diagnosed with cancer.

Then, they turned their attention to a cancer-causing chemical, TCE, in the groundwater and drinking water as they compiled a growing list of people with cancer in the city.

TROUBLED WATER INVESTIGATIONS

But a CBS13 investigation revealed TCE-contaminated drinking water wasn’t the only concern. Experts say that chemical can be just as dangerous when it evaporates into the air through soil vapor. And as we revealed, no one had tested for TCE soil vapor in Ripon in over a decade.

Now, instructed by the Regional Water Boards, Nestle has tested the soil vapor and the results reveal they did find a cancer-causing chemical. But it wasn’t TCE, the chemical we’ve been reporting on in the water, which is linked to the old Nestle plant in Ripon. Instead, they found a similar chemical called PCE, which is often used as a dry cleaning solvent.

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To complicate the matter, even more, TCE, the chemical found in the drinking water, is a bi-product of PCE, the one found in the soil vapor. The preliminary soil vapor tests found PCE just slightly above the screening levels near Weston Elementary, and well above the screening levels in downtown Ripon.

The water board tells CBS13 that the PCE is not likely connected to the old Nestle plant, the source of the TCE in the groundwater. Based on initial testing, it appears the chemical could be associated with the sewer, not the groundwater.

The water board said they will be doing more testing to try to determine the source of the PCE and how widespread the chemical concern may be.

Julie Watts

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