A new groundwater treatment system is expected to be in operation at the sprawling military base by the beginning of next year, an environmental official said.
The new system will go online while Wright-Patterson officials have sought federal and state approval to abandon 35 more ground water monitoring wells in addition to the some 100 already shut down. The wells are no longer needed to detect plumes of groundwater contamination, according to base officials.
Wright-Patterson has more than 500 monitoring wells, most of which will remain, officials have said.
An aging groundwater treatment system that was becoming more costly to operate and difficult to find parts for was scrapped in July, according to Treva A. Bashore, a Wright-Patterson environmental restoration program manager.
A back-up system has operated in its place until the new system is installed, she said.
A cost estimate for the new system was not immediately available, but was part of a $25 million contract for environmental work at four military bases, Bashore said.
The Air Force has treated groundwater under Wright-Patterson since the early 1990s for contamination from trichlorethylene, or TCE, an industrial solvent suspected of causing cancer. Environmental clean-up efforts have removed or reduced other volatile organic compounds in the soil and groundwater, according to officials.
Decades ago, the city of Dayton first detected groundwater contamination near the boundary of the base. The city has more than 300 wells that monitor groundwater near Wright-Patterson, a city official has said.
The city has worked closely with and supported Wright-Patterson in its plans to remove some monitoring wells, said Michele D. Simmons, city of Dayton environmental manager.
Wright-Patterson built a $7.5 million groundwater treatment facility to remediate contamination leaching out of a landfill and to avoid polluting Dayton’s drinking water supplies drawn from an underwater aquifer, newspaper archives show. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency ordered the construction of the groundwater treatment facility when city test wells near the base fence line showed contamination flowing from Wright-Patterson, archives show.
Contamination levels have fallen dramatically since then, and the U.S. EPA has said migration of tainted groundwater is under control at the base.
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