The Atlantic City Council, Wednesday, moved to support plans by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to include a former dry cleaner site as a “National Priorities List (NPL)” site, making it possible for the agency to use Superfund monies for the cleanup costs. Susan Fisher, with the EPA’s Region 7 office in Kansas City, says for the past several years, the agency has been assessing the groundwater in Atlantic, and found one area in particular to be contaminated with Tetrachloroethylene.
PCE, as it’s called, is a manufactured chemical typically used in dry cleaning solvents. The chemical PCE was originally detected in 1980. The source of the contamination is believed to be the former Norge Dry Cleaners Facility, which was located in a lot on the southeast side of 7th and Plum Streets.
Neither the City of Atlantic nor Atlantic Municipal Utilities will have any financial obligation costs for the removal of the contamination, which flows in an underground plum north toward Troublesome Creek.
Fisher says in the first phase, or “Removal,” the EPA wants to use technology at the source of the contamination that causes the PCE to heat up and vaporize prior to being collected from the soil. The next phase – called “Remedial” – is to remove the PCE from the groundwater, by dissolution. The remediation process will take several years.
The cost of the cleanup is estimated at $1.5-million dollars. Atlantic Municipal Utilities has operated and maintained an interceptor well since 1980 to keep the resulting underground plume migrating from the contamination site from impacting the municipal water supply well field. Earlier this week, AMU General Manager Steve Tjepkes says the utility continues to perform testing on a monthly basis to monitor the public drinking water supply wells to ensure that drinking water does not become contaminated with PCE.
He says also AMU is working closely with the EPA and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) as they continue their assessment, to encourage cleanup efforts for the site.