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 The EPA Is Allowing Contaminated Groundwater to Go Untreated

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PostSubject: The EPA Is Allowing Contaminated Groundwater to Go Untreated   Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:06 pm

The remains of the George Air Force Base on the edge of California’s Mojave Desert are little more than a dusty sprawl of squat buildings, their roofs riddled with holes, their hinged windows flapping open and shut in the dry wind.

The George H.W. Bush administration decommissioned the base in 1992, but this crumbling ghost town carries a worrisome legacy—a stew of toxic waste that has been the target of a federal cleanup, which is still under way after two decades of work and more than $100 million in spending.

At George, as at many other military bases, chemicals and jet fuel were leaked or haphazardly disposed of for years, polluting hundreds of acres of groundwater. Trichloroethylene, a cancer-causing solvent, has contaminated two aquifers underneath the base and threatens a third aquifer, as well as the Mojave River. It has also tainted monitoring wells at a nearby wastewater reclamation plant and forced workers there to drink bottled water as a precaution.

Yet even as contaminants continue to spread, the Air Force wants to finish part of the cleanup with a laissez-faire strategy, raising alarm at the local water board. The approach—adopted by environmental agencies at toxic cleanup sites across the country—leaves contaminated groundwater to remain untreated and instead slowly diminish over time. It’s a strategy that saves money for polluters but could jeopardize drinking water supplies and cost taxpayers dearly.
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