Ecology is overseeing a study by The Boeing Company and its contractor to see whether a process called bioremediation might be an effective part of cleaning up contaminated groundwater in Algona and Auburn.
Water that flows under the ground through the soil beneath parts of the two cities is contaminated with a solvent called trichloroethene (TCE), also called trichloroethylene, and its breakdown products. It is believed that these chemicals originated from the Boeing Auburn facility between the 1960s and 1980s. The contaminated groundwater, called a plume, flows north and northwest away from the Boeing property into portions of southwest Auburn and northeast Algona. The plume extends just over a mile from Boeing’s property.
A microbial feast – at first
The study is taking place in Algona’s commercial district. Technicians inject a non-toxic, food-grade solution into specially installed groundwater wells. Doing this usually increases the population of naturally occurring microbes in the soil. Some of these microscopic organisms can consume the chemicals that contaminate the groundwater.
Can it work here?
A step toward cleanupThe pilot study is part of a larger process to evaluate the feasibility of cleanup options for the plume. And, the plume itself has been under study since 2002 to determine the full extent of its location and depth. All of this will help Ecology propose a final cleanup plan for the plume, expected in 2017.
To learn more about this cleanup, please visit our Boeing Auburn webpage.