Article courtesy of Brandon Mulder | October 21, 2015 | mrt.com|| Shared as educational material
Baker Hughes is taking steps forward in addressing a water contamination concern for a county neighborhood along Interstate 20. Last summer, a Baker Hughes monitoring water well detected inexplicably high levels of chlorinated solvents in groundwater sources.
By late August, the company was directing residents to avoid using or drinking the water until well samples could be tested. And now, residents have begun receiving letters detailing the impact of the contamination.
Of the 114 residential wells sampled throughout the sample area, half of the wells indicated a chemical presence, and 22 of those wells indicated solvent chemical concentrations at levels that exceeded EPA drinking water standards, according to a company official.
The majority of the wells with amounts exceeding EPA standards were located within the north-central portion of the sampling area, which contains several blocks generally between County Road 1225 and County Road 1221 south of the interstate, a company official said. However, exact locations are not being released.
Since test results were made available, the company has taken a number of steps toward remediation, including having installed long-term water filtration systems on wells with trace amounts of contamination above 1 part per billion. As an extra precautionary measure, the company is also in the process of installing filtration systems on properties directly adjacent to contaminated wells.
Additionally, Baker Hughes has installed a network of 12 monitoring wells that will track any movement of contaminants through the underground aquifer.
“The current focus is on preventing exposure to the impacted groundwater, providing public notice, and ensuring that the extent of the impact is defined,” said a spokeswoman with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. “Baker Hughes will also be required to perform corrective action under the oversight of the TCEQ to remediate any contamination as necessary, and to monitor and respond to any migration to the contaminated groundwater.”
The exact source of the chemicals spike last summer has yet to be determined and no further details have yet to be released on the investigation, according to a Baker Hughes official. However, the chemical profile of the newly discovered contaminants matches the profile of those that were released into groundwater sources in 1990, the official said. The company stopped using these solvents in 2004 after setting new environmental standards.
“Tests conducted in July 2015 indicate that groundwater in the area south of I-20 may contain dichloroethene, trichloroethene and tetrachloroethene,” read a letter that was distributed to residents in August. “Concentrations are low, in the parts per billion range, but above drinking water standards defined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
TCEQ, Baker Hughes and other undisclosed industrial neighbors in the area are working to establish a “remediation action plan” that will confirm the source of the chemicals and devise a remediation plan, according to the company. No further details on this plan are available at this time.
In September, the company set up a Family Assistance Area at the Solid Rock Fellowship Church in an effort to disseminate information, fresh water-bottles and filtering mechanisms to neighborhood residents. That operation was phased out later that month.
“It was my understanding that Baker Hughes was bending over backward to rectify and correct the problem,” said John Love, District 2 City Council member. “So that’s what I’m expecting that they are doing. And hopefully that’s what they’re doing.”