An Abandoned Wastewater Treatment Plant is Oozing Trichloroethylene

The town of Salem, NH has been spending at least $100,000 per year for the last 15 years in an effort to clean up pollution left behind when it closed its old wastewater treatment plant in in mid-1980s.

The issue now is environmental contamination caused by the chemical trichloroethylene, a solvent that is carcinogenic. After being closed for 25 years, the old plant is still the source of excessive amounts of TCE.  Now, $306,000 additional is being requested for 2013 cleanup activities.

Trichloroethene is a manufactured, volatile organic chemical. It has been used as a solvent to remove grease from metal. Trichloroethene has also been used as a paint stripper, adhesive solvent and as an ingredient in paints and varnishes. The chemical can affect the nervous system.

TCE can cause liver and kidney damage, and other ailments.  It is probably  carcinogenic to humans.  In small amounts, TCE can cause headaches, lung irritation, poor coordination, and difficulty concentrating.

Small amounts of TCE can contaminate large amounts of groundwater.  Salem is doing its best to deal with a dangerous and frustrating problem.

More information from the Salem Eagle-Tribune.