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Erin Brockovich's investigator to host town hall on toxic vapors in Como homes

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Members of Erin Brockovich's legal team are stepping in to address concerns over elevated levels of toxic soil vapors that have made their way into a handful of Minneapolis homes.

FOX 9 reports Robert Bowcock, the chief environmental investigator for Brockovich, will host a town hall meeting on Saturday to meet with Como neighborhood residents regarding the discovery of trichloroethylene, or TCE, vapors in the area.

The Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency notified Como residents of the presence of TCE in early November after preliminary tests were conducted in October.

In the 1940s through the early 1960s, TCE was used as an industrial solvent at a former General Mills research facility on 2010 E. Hennepin Ave in Minneapolis. Roughly 1,000 gallons of the chemical was disposed of in a pit on the property, which was a legal practice at the time.

After the contamination was discovered in the 1980s, the area was declared a “Superfund” site and General Mills spent the next 25 years pumping and treating groundwater, but traces of TCE still remain in the soil, seeping into basements and foundation cracks.

Additional basement testing can determine whether the vapors exceed the safety threshold set by the MPCA. Of the 26 homes that have been tested so far, 17 of them had unsafe levels of TCE.

General Mills has agreed to cover the cost of installing ventilation systems to remove the vapors from homes with high levels.

Some residents are consulting with an attorney about pursuing a class-action lawsuit to address health and property values.

Integrated Resource Management, Inc., Brockovich's foundation, described the decision to end the water treatment as "a gross error" and is calling for more investigation to determine the risks to residents, FOX 9 reports.

Bowcock's town hall meeting will be held at Van Cleve Park, located at 901 15th Ave. SE, between 9 and 11 a.m.

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