News Feature | March 20, 2014

Southwest Water Scarcity Prompts EPA To Hasten Pollution Cleanup

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

Arizonanst

Federal officials want to speed up the effort to clean contaminated groundwater in Arizona.

The EPA's proposed cleanup plan recognizes "that water is scarce in the southwest," and calls for "additional treatment to speed the process of cleaning this valuable resource." The plan remains up for public comment.

The proposal appears to have some key supporters. "Many southwest residents and leaders, who have long pressed for faster action at the decades-old Phoenix Goodyear Airport Superfund site, say they support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s eight-year, $11 million plan," the Arizona Republic reported.

What's the plan? The EPA says it wants to use "in-situ treatment" to clean up the site. That is, "the injection of nZVI, ZVI, and Anaerobic Reductive Dechlorination) with the existing hydraulic barrier along West Van Buren Street to treat and contain TCE and perchlorate. In-Situ treatment refers to the placement of treatment where the contamination exists."

This approach would "involve injecting solutions into the groundwater beneath the source Area so that nZVI and ZVI particles and microbial organisms come into contact with contaminants and reduce them to more stable, less mobile or non-toxic compounds," the agency said.

Pollution on the site is expected to be cleaned up within eight years, as part of the government's "super fund" program, which targets uncontrolled hazardous waste sites.

Contamination at the Goodyear site dates back decades. "For about 24 years, there has been an ongoing effort to remove contaminants left by aerospace equipment plant Unidynamics Phoenix Inc., which operated near Phoenix Goodyear Airport from 1963 until 1993. The facility dumped waste materials into dry wells and unlined oxidation ponds, “the Republic reported. 

Officials became aware of contaminated groundwater at the site in 1981. That's when "the Arizona Department of Health Services discovered that groundwater in the site area was contaminated with trichloroethylene and other volatile organic compounds from manufacturing operations in the area," according to EPA documents posted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. 

The Goodyear site is notable in part because some major companies such as Lockheed Martin have land in the area, according to the EPA. 

For more on government oversight, check out Water Online's Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solution Center.

Image credit: "Arizona NST," © 2009 Bureau of Land Management, used under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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