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Toxic Triangle Testing Drags on

The EPA took air samples back in May in the Toxic Triangle surrounding former Kelly Air Force Base, where local residents fear contaminated groundwater is responsible for a rash of cancer cases and other diseases. Results from these tests were revealed in August, but local station WOAI reported just last month that EPA is still running those tests. So what's the deal?

Gary Miller, a senior permitting specialist for EPA Region 6, says the agency presented the results to homeowners in August and that none of the vapor intrusion test data for tetrachloroethene (PCE) was "above screening levels of concern." Gas from soil was tested at 20 homes, while five homes received indoor air testing, but thanks to public pressure, EPA has agreed to come back for further sampling in February in the North Kelly Gardens area. Miller says EPA will also look at two other neighborhoods - one off Quintana Road, between the main base and East Kelly, and another off Commercial Street.

"The EPA's study is too little and too late," says Lara Cushing, environmental-justice coordinator for the Southwest Workers Union. She notes that two of the five indoor air samplings showed what EPA calls a "site specific" level of concern for PCE, meaning not high but not low either, and that indoor air was not sampled in the home with the highest soil-contamination results.

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