Issue of PCE Plume Resolved by the EPA
The EPA along with the New Mexco Environment Department has completed a new system designed to address a plume of chemicals that were contaminating water at a site in Grants, NM. Believed to have come from a dry-cleaning business, the chemicals — called “chlorinated solvents”– had spread through a shallow aquifer and through soil. The EPA had earlier designated the site for cleanup under the Superfund program.
The cleanup area was extensive. It included more than 570 wells placed throughout the plume. The wells are filled with emulsified vegetable oil, which stimulates the breakdown of the chlorinated solvents. The EPA also installed systems within 15 private residences that prevent vapors from contaminated soil from entering the homes. These structures complement earlier treatments that extracted about 1,000 pounds of contamination.
According to the EPA:
Prolonged exposure to the main contaminant, tetra chloroethene or PCE, can damage the nervous system and cause liver and kidney problems. The cleanup prevented contamination from spreading to the city’s drinking water wells, located two miles north of the plume, and to the San Andreas aquifer, the source of drinking water for Grants and nearby Milan, New Mexico.
The city water wells provide drinking water to approximately 14,000 residents in Grants, San Rafael and Milan. The primary contaminant of concern, tetra chloroethene (PCE) had been found at levels up to 51,000 parts per billion (ppb) in the ground water.