City, State Look for EPA Involvement in PCE Contamination

(KCPW News) Hoping to avert further contamination, Salt Lake City wants the federal Environmental Protection Agency to get more involved in investigating groundwater contaminated with the chemical PCE. The contamination at 700 South and 1600 East was first discovered in the 1990s. But a new report links it to more recent contamination found in surface water springs. Utah Department of Environmental Quality Spokeswoman Donna Spangler says it’s a persistent issue.

“Now that the springs are impacted, there’s more exposure, and we’re covering a very large issue,” she says. “It’s an issue that isn’t going to go away unless it’s addressed.”

Now, the DEQ, the city and the Salt Lake Valley Health Department are formally supporting a proposal by the EPA to put the East Side Springs PCE Plume Site on its National Priorities List.

Spangler says if that happens, the EPA would take the lead in doing a larger investigation and a feasibility study for cleaning up the site.

“It’s a large area that has potential risk; we don’t know what the actual risks are, but this gives us that funding mechanism that we can launch a bigger investigation to determine what’s the best way we can clean this up,” she says.

It’s estimated the contamination covers 300 acres. The EPA is expected to open a public comment period about putting the site on its National Priorities List in the fall, and possibly make a final determination in April 2013. The EPA has more information on the contaminated site.