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Once home to the nation’s biggest producer of valves for air conditioners and refrigerators, a contaminated former industrial site in Washington, Mo., has now cracked a federal list of priority cleanup projects.

The four-acre site of the Sporlan Valve plant at 611 E. 7th St. — about an hour west of St. Louis — was officially added to the National Priorities List of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program Monday. It joined six other new additions to the list, which encompasses more than 1,300 toxic sites nationwide.

The Sporlan Valve Company first started manufacturing refrigeration valves at the now-vacant location in 1939, according to EPA. The facility used trichloroethylene, or TCE, as a chemical degreaser and industrial solvent. TCE is considered carcinogenic and raises “a number of health effects concerns,” the agency says.

“A release of TCE to the ground has occurred, potentially over several decades, resulting in contaminated soil and groundwater beneath the facility,” according to the EPA. “TCE has been detected in groundwater, soil gas, and indoor air surrounding the site.”

To protect against the threat of TCE vapors entering houses that sit atop contaminated groundwater, EPA says “a series of actions” have been taken, including the “installation of 19 vapor mitigation systems at homes adjacent to the site.”

The site became a proposed addition to the Superfund program’s priority list last September.

Reporter covering energy and the environment for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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