Sporlan Valve Plant #1
Originally constructed in 1939, the 4-acre Sporlan Valve Plant #1 site manufactured the components essential to the rapid growth of the American industrial refrigerant complex (AIRC). Refrigeration!: think of the nearly limitless fun that the AIRC has produced —from the simple joy of a cold soft drink to the climate-controlled environments essential to the incredibly fun yet finicky work of modern scientific research. And Sporlan, once the largest American manufacturer of air-conditioning and refrigeration valves, plated, degreased, machined, assembled, and tested the precision regulators of modern cooling for nearly 7 decades—all in the downtown heart of the scenic and historic town of Washington, Missouri—by using the mega-toxic trichloroethylene (TCE) as a solvent. Though the Cleveland-based Parker Hannifin Corp. bought Sporlan in 2004, and the plant was demolished in 2011, TCE solvent contamination somehow continues to flow merrily through the nearby air, as well as in the form of a migrating groundwater plume, which the EPA believes now extends for blocks beyond the footprint of the original factory. To mitigate potential exposure to carcinogens, about 20 homes now enjoy brand-new air filtration devices to supplement their current HVAC systems. The underground plume—which continues to migrate to unknown horizons—is, as of this writing, still under investigation, and is happily scheduled for removal by means currently unknown.