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WQAD.com

Maquoketa residents asked to help monitor contamination from carcinogenic chemical

City officials ask residents to monitor vapor contamination from a carcinogenic chemical that's spread from an old factory site.
Credit: WQAD
Downtown Maquoketa after 2008 fire.

MAQUOKETA, Iowa — City officials plan to ask residents to enroll in a program to monitor vapor contamination from a carcinogenic chemical that's spread from a factory site in the eastern Iowa city of Maquoketa. 

The Telegraph Herald reported that the contamination stems from the operations of Clinton Machine Co., which built small engines in Maquoketa from 1950 into the 1990s. 

The factory used trichloroethene, commonly known as TCE, as a degreasing agent. 

Federal authorities have since determined that TCE is carcinogenic.

The site is now home to the Clinton Engines Museum.

Shelly Nellesen with the Iowa Natural Resources Department says the TCE in groundwater also creates the potential for indoor contamination by seeping through cracks in foundations.

Maquoketa's City Manager Gerald Smith said in a phone interview that the city is a "passive participant" as the DNR works to manage the situation. 

Smith also said he's unclear how big of a threat it is to the city's residents.

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