Friday, November 18, 2011

UC Davis Addresses Leftover Contamination Below Animal Research Facility

by: Duane Craig
University of California, Davis Campus

Superfund Cleanup at UC Davis

A Superfund site with shared responsibility between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of California Davis campus enters a new phase of the cleanup--the portion the university is responsible for--and it may be getting quite costly.
The university tested the effects of radiation on beagles, the animal research industry’s canine workhorse. According to this article in The Sacramento Bee, about 800 beagles endured various assaults by radioactive contamination before being dispatched. Twenty years ago their remains were hauled away along with toxic dog waste and contaminated gravel as the first part of the site cleanup. Now, the university must clean up waste pits where it disposed of a wide range of unwanted items, including perhaps an anesthetic.
The anesthesia of choice for the beagle experiments was chloroform, and a plume of that has migrated offsite and is contaminating soil and groundwater below nearby agricultural land. Always the intrepid experimenters, university researchers are using a pilot project to get rid of the chloroform. Air is being pumped into the ground to force the chloroform out of the soil and into a pipe that carries it into the air.
The Energy Department spent decades and millions of dollars on the first phase of this cleanup. But this next part has an amazingly wide potential cost, anywhere from $6 million to $100 million.

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