Groundwater Contamination Cleanup Underway

Wyoming environmental officials are looking into cleanup efforts on groundwater contamination in Casper.

Department of Environmental Quality workers say levels of tetrachloroethylene or PCE have been on the radar in areas of downtown and near the North Platte River for years.

PCE was a solvent used in cleaning car parts and dry cleaning. It contaminates ground water, and also is airborne.

News 13's Tyler Waggenspack tells us how environmental leaders are looking to fix the problem.

This folder contains the D.E.Q.’s plan for extracting PCE in areas of Casper.

"We are trying to do a remediation project and clean up the PC plume that's originating in Downtown Casper and traveling northeast towards the river," said Matt Buccholz, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality senior project manager.

Currently, E.PA. regulations state PCE levels have to be five micrograms per liter. This map shows areas where there's nearly ten micrograms per liter. Long term exposure to high levels can create health problems. D.E.Q. officials hope this project will decrease that.

"The first phase will be soil vapor extraction where we treat the contamination in the soil vapor and then we'll come back in and do a bioremediation afterwards where we inject microbes and food for the microbes and they help break down the contamination of ground water."

And the project will help clean up "orphan sites” or areas where PCE can be found.

"An orphan site is essentially where we can't find a viable party or responsible party and at the end of the day, these areas still need to have clean up," said Keith Guille from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

"Generally when you find it, you keep tracking it and trying to find the source, but unfortunately back then there weren't a lot of environmental regulations."

But they remain hopeful of the project's outcome.

"We're certainly hoping that it cleans out everything."

The project is expected to start next month. The second phase will begin in nearly three months.

The project will take about five to ten years before seeing full results or declines in PCE levels.