Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pennsylvania Water Wells Mysteriously Contaminated with TCE

Nockamixon Township Board of Supervisors
by Duane Craig

Mysterious water well contamination in Nockamixon, Pennsylvania, continues to get news coverage as the local environmental authorities continue to search for the source. Most troubling about this contamination is its sporadic appearance in wells. The contaminant is trichloroethylene (TCE) showing up in one well, but not in one right next door.

Officials believe the difference could be the depths of the wells, but there doesn’t appear to be a conclusion on that just yet. The state’s department of environmental protection (DEP) is following the progression of the contamination and mapping the wells it shows up in to try to get a handle on the way it is spreading.

What many people may not be aware of is that TCE was once used to degrease septic systems. According to the minutes of the Nockamixon Township Board of Supervisors meeting in late 2010, the area has no public water system or sewer system, and the current plan is to keep it that way because development in the area is spread widely making those systems cost prohibitive. Instead, the township is focusing on continuing the on-site sewage and water systems.

It would be interesting to see if the locations of the current TCE contamination match properties where TCE was used to degrease the septic tanks on the same, or nearby properties.


Anonymous said...

TCE is a heavy contaminant that tends to follow the path of least resistance such as rock fractures. It is much harder to map than petroleum. It is not that surprising that one well is contaminated and the next clean as the contamination may be moving along rock fractures. TCE was such a common degreaser that any tool shop or garage could also be the source(s).
Posted by Robert Murphy

Anonymous said...

Have they pinpointed the specific isotopes? I would think this would go a long way in determining the source term

Posted by Mike Conilogue

Anonymous said...

The City of Philadelphia dg up a known industrial site with a soup of chemicals illegally dumped on top of a covered up stream. The project has so many political fingers in it that they have down everything to cover it up even though they have know that I, the closet neighbors have been repeatedly in hospital and displaced from my home. I have been threatened and even rocks thrown at me. One cat already died of cancer and I get weaker every day. I have witnesses to the dumping, confessions and violations and still the city politics attacks me. They are killing me. Now Mayor Nutter is speaking at the Brownfield Convention. They will kill someone yet still take their photo opportunity.