August 25, 2010 - A federal agency recommends treating contaminated water below ground at the Valmont Industrial Park rather than pumping it to the surface and then removing a carcinogen.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said underground treatment will save money and time in the cleanup of the cancer-causing chemical trichloroethylene or TCE. A study done during the past two years at the site shows that below-ground treatment can reduce levels of TCE.
Tests found TCE leaking into soil and groundwater from the former Chromatex No. 2 plant at Valmont in West Hazleton 23 years ago. Chromatex used TCE to attach stain repellent to upholstery and rugs. The company stored TCE in two tanks in the plant and caught spills in an underground tank, where a broken pipe was discovered.
Since the discovery, authorities installed water lines so people living near the plant wouldn't drink or bathe from contaminated wells. Contractors excavated 18,000 tons of contaminated soil and installed systems to vent 17 homes containing fumes of TCE. In 2001, the agency placed the site on its Superfund list, a register of polluted areas given national priority for cleanup.
Now the agency proposed a plan to treat the contaminated groundwater.