by Duane Craig
|The Entrance to Willits CA|
A leaky underground storage tank in Willets, California, has attracted the attention of an environmental group called River Watch because of claims the contents have contaminated ground water and soil.
The tank was removed in 1999 and had 10 holes in it allowing waste oil to leach into the soil. Some of the contaminants include benzene, toluene, MTBE, xylene and other volatile organic compounds. The City of Willits has been watching the contamination through its system of monitoring wells.
In July of 2007, an engineering firm concluded there was no significant soil or water contamination, and recommended the case be closed. But the city a few months later, along with state agencies, came up with a plan for a new pilot system. The idea was to use extraction wells to remove MTBE-contaminated water and then pump ozone into it to break the MTBE into something more benign. The city failed to comply with the schedule for that work and so River Watch notified it of the violation. In 2010, working with the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, the city came up with a new remediation plan. The state has paid about $250,000 so far toward the cleanup and there is already $1.3 million set aside to complete the job.
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