The contamination story on a 26-year-old site is winding down to what could be the final public comment period. The site, called the Boeing Wichita Site in Wichita, Kan., now has a draft Corrective Action Decision that tells what remediation will finally close the book on pollution left over from years of airplane construction, according to this report.
The site at 3801 Oliver St. and the surrounding area was home to aircraft manufacturing beginning in the 1930s. In 1985, Boeing noticed contamination while it was performing an environmental investigation. Originally, the source of the contaminants was suspected to originate solely at a Cessna plant nearby. But as more test wells were drilled, it became apparent the pollution was widespread. Next, private water wells came up contaminated in the 31st and Clifton Street area. The primary contaminants detected were tetrachloroethene (PCE); trichloroethene (TCE); cis-1, 2 dichloroethene (cis-1, 2-DCE); vinyl chloride (VC); benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene(s) (BTEX); and chromium, according to Kansas Department of Health and Environment documents.
To its credit, Boeing took an aggressive and active part in the investigations and remediation over the years, no doubt helping to prevent the site from falling under the Superfund program for lack of cleanup funds. The company currently operates “179 recovery wells, 195 monitoring wells and 9 air stripper sites.” It installed a “300-foot long by 30-foot deep groundwater interceptor trench to recover off-site groundwater contamination immediately upgradient of two springs ... at the northwest edge of the site,” and installed “more than a dozen air-strippers to remove TCE dissolved in recovered groundwater which is then discharged to the Arkansas River through a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit or is treated at the Spirit Industrial Waste Treatment Plant (IWTP) and recycled for use in the Spirit plant.”
Besides continuing the air stripping operations, remedial action will also include bio-remediation in place and the maintenance of permeable reactive barriers to mitigate further spread of existing soil-based contamination. In cases where it’s necessary, remedial soil removal and disposal will be on the cleanup agenda.
by: Duane Craig