Cleaning Groundwater Near Behr Plant Could Take Decades ; U.S. EPA’s Plan Involves Taking Samples This Year, Official Tells Residents.
By Steve Bennish Staff Writer
DAYTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency could begin sampling groundwater this year as it goes forward with developing a plan to clean up contamination in the vicinity of the Behr Dayton Thermal Products plant, 1600 Webster St. Stacey Coburn, remedial projects manager for EPA, told residents Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Kiser School, that the cleanup could take decades. Trichloroethylene, a hazardous chemical implicated as
a carcinogen in high enough concentrations, could have been in the groundwater since at least 1989-90, the time frame when it was detected, Coburn said.
Chrysler, former plant owner, has been working on the problem since 1996.
One effort involves pumping and treating groundwater, company spokesman Max Gates said.
Gates said the system works by extracting water from under the plant, adding a foodgrade nutrient, then reinjecting a portion of the fortified water into the ground. The additive helps neutralize contaminants, he said. Based on the change in contaminant concentration measured in groundwater between 2003 and 2008, Chrysler said approximately 63 percent of the original contamination has been removed. Gates said the company believes that no more pollution is leaving the plant.
Still, enough contaminated groundwater has migrated off-site to endanger residents by polluting indoor air, now being treated with air evacuation systems.
The EPA believes that responsibility for polluted groundwater is shared by Chrysler, Behr and two other companies — Aramark Uniform Services and Gem City Chemicals. It hasn’t been able to reach a cleanup agreement with the companies, and plans on proceeding on its own.
The government can recover costs at a later date through litigation, Coburn said.
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