State experts say a Rutland eyesore is an environmental emergency. Tetrachloroethylene-- a dry cleaning solvent also known as perc-- is buried underneath and plunging toward the water-table.
"Our concern is most specifically related to migration of groundwater contaminated with perc," said George Desch, of the Department of Environmental Conservation.
The tab for cleanup should fall on the building's owner, John Ruggiero, who paid $10 for the property in a 2002 tax sale. But he's $170,000 behind on his taxes as of June 30, and says he can't afford it. So, the state is spending $1.2 million to clean it up.
"A lot of times we find it in groundwater but it's not affecting anybody. This one we're hoping to get out ahead of it before it actually gets to the residential area," Desch said.
The state installed wells to monitor the spread of the cancer-causing chemical and found it's spreading to a residential neighborhood.
"It's good that it's finally being cleaned up," David Knipes said.
Knipes has lived behind the property for 20 years and says he's disappointed cleanup took this long. He says it's been tough to live with the slow pace of action and information flow.
"When you look down the street, they have wells where the plume, toxic water has spread thus far. And people walk through here with their dogs, children, kids ride their bikes through here. We don't know what they're being exposed to," Knipes said.
"You name it, I've had it," said Mary Duprey, an area homeowner.
Some in the area say they believe some of their recent health problems are related to the underground plume, but officials insist there's no danger. Water testing wells show toxic levels, but residents are on city water, which is safe and self-contained.
The state will still seek to recoup its costs from Ruggiero, who has 29 properties in town. Ruggiero says he was trying to make the best of a property no one wanted-- including the city-- and ultimately he could not afford the upgrade when the economy tanked in 2008.
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:10:32 GMT
Two New Hampshire communities damaged by storms are getting federal help. Lincoln will get more than $4.5 million for a bridge repair from Tropical Storm Irene. FEMA also awarded Lebanon more than $3More >>
Two New Hampshire communities damaged by storms are getting federal help.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:58 GMT
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County. CCTA officials told us in a statement that after 19 hours of negotiations that went into the morningMore >>
This morning, Channel 3 has learned there will NOT be a bus strike Monday morning in Chittenden County.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:09 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:09:06 GMT
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro. The film is called "The Address". It follows the 50 boys at the Greenwood School in Putney who have learningMore >>
A Ken Burns documentary featuring Vermont students will have its premiere in Brattleboro.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 10:03 AM EDT2014-03-09 14:03:58 GMT
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself. Claremont police tell us that the man was cleaning his gun Saturday night when it went off. He was taken to the hospitalMore >>
New Hampshire police say a man is recovering after he accidentally shot himself.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:59 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:59:53 GMT
This towering ice fortress is dazzling visitors to Loon Mountain in New Hampshire. "Yeah, this is a wow moment," says visitor Millie Gabriel. "It's an incredible feeling to see people really light upMore >>
If you're ready to see one more beautiful thing before we say hello to spring, then we've found the spot for you.More >>
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:53 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:53:41 GMT
When the Wild Center in Tupper Lake was looking at maple education programs, they hit a bit of a snag. "I took a survey of the 31 acres here at the museum and we only had one maple tree on the property,"More >>
The Community Maple program has been going for three years now, allowing people to take the sap from their backyard and learn how to turn it into syrup.
Sunday, March 9 2014 9:44 AM EDT2014-03-09 13:44:12 GMT
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March! PANCAKE BREAKFAST This year is the 20th annual Franklin Fire Dept. Pancake breakfast at the Franklin Central School. They serve more than 2,000More >>
We've got some tasty ideas for this second Sunday in March!More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>