Johnson County Cancer Cluster
Joe Donnelly holds a press conference with Stacie Davidson and Kari Rhinehart, Johnson County residents affected by the cancer cluster.
Families deserve to know that the neighborhoods they live, work, and raise a family in are safe and healthy. That’s why Joe worked with community leaders and advocates to get answers about what is happening in Johnson County regarding the contamination at the Amphenol and Webb Wellfield sites.
Joe first heard about the potential spread of contaminants in Franklin in 2017, when Stacie Davidson and Kari Rhinehart, two moms who founded a local advocacy group after their children developed rare cancers, brought it to his attention.
Following that meeting, Joe sent letters to EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) asking them to review information on the contamination and how possibly elevated levels of toxic chemicals were found in Franklin.
Joe met with the Director of the Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) official to continue asking why Trevor’s Law had not been implemented. Trevor’s Law, was enacted in 2016 as part of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, Congress’s update to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The TSCA update, which Donnelly supported and helped pass, included Trevor’s Law in order to improve the coordination among federal, state, and local agencies and the public in investigating and addressing potential cancer clusters. It requires HHS to ensure that the appropriate resources are available to respond upon receiving investigation requests from state and local agencies.
In April 2018, Joe and several Senators sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar asking HHS to implement Trevor’s Law and to request the HHS plan for successful implementation. Joe also met with the Mayor of Franklin and spoke with Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb about the work that IDEM needed to do to assist affected families and to ensure that action was being taken to get residents full information. Joe asked Secretary Azar again in July 2018 for an update on the implementation of Trevor’s Law.
In August 2018, Joe spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of ensuring Hoosiers have confidence their communities are safe. Also in August, Joe worked in a bipartisan way to get an amendment passed in the Senate adding $1 million to help implement Trevor’s Law after the Administration claimed it did not have adequate resources to finish its requirement. That was signed into law in early October 2018.
After media reports came out in early November 2018 that IDEM and the City of Franklin knew as far back as 2013 that the contamination from the Amphenol site was migrating into neighborhoods, Joe sent a letter to the EPA calling on the agency to take over full control of the investigation and cleanup efforts for any contamination resulting from the Amphenol Corporation and Webb Wellfield sites in Franklin.
In December 2018, Joe joined with Stacie Davidson and Kari Rhinehart to call on Governor Holcomb to join their efforts to have EPA take over control of the investigation and cleanup from IDEM.