Water Contamination Near SLO Airport

Posted in: Ground Water News, United States Water News, Water Contamination
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Article courtesy of edhat | Feb 01, 2016 | edhat | Shared as educational material

The County of San Luis Obispo is investigating possible sources of groundwater pollution found near the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, and County officials say that the airport is not the likely source of contamination.

“The community has a right to be concerned about toxic chemicals being found in the groundwater,” said County Director of Airports Kevin Bumen. “We’re very concerned about water contamination near the airport and are trying to uncover the source. But we do not believe that the airport is the source of contamination.”

The Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Central Coast Water Board) will discuss the TCE groundwater investigation in the Buckley Road area of San Luis Obispo at a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 4 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Central Coast Water Board Office, 895 Aerovista Place, Ste. 101 in San Luis Obispo. The airport was notified by the Central Coast Water Board in November 2015 that concentrated levels of chlorinated solvent trichloroethene (TCE) had been detected in groundwater at properties nearby, and the County immediately conducted its own investigation.

County staff scrutinized airport operations, reviewed records and historical documentation, and observed the nature of the businesses and facilities on and around the airport, but did not find any evidence that the airport is the source of contaminated groundwater beneath properties nearby.

In late 2015, very low levels of TCE were detected in two wells at the airport, which indicates that groundwater beneath the airport meets drinking water standards, but has likely been impacted by an off-site source of TCE. TCE levels in groundwater are higher in off-site wells, particularly those wells surrounding neighboring industrial operations. Electronic parts manufacturing, vapor degreasing of metal parts, and commercial dry cleaning industries have historically been the largest users of chlorinated solvents such as TCE. The chemical may also be found in some household products, such as wood finishes, adhesives and paint removers.

“We’re still investigating possible causes of TCE, but the chemical is not used by the airport in maintenance or operations, nor do we have any record of it ever being used by the airport in the past,” Bumen said. “We also have no record of TCE spills, releases or disposal on or from the airport. At this point, all evidence indicates that the airport is not the source, but we’re still looking into it.”

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ABOUT THE COUNTY AIRPORTS Located just south of the City of San Luis Obispo, the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport serves areas as far north as Southern Monterey County and as far south as Northern Santa Barbara County. The airport offers convenient access to and from the Central Coast. Residents and visitors have the choice of two commercial airlines with flights to Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco. The airport is also home to full service general aviation and corporate facilities. For more information, or to book a flight, visit www.sloairport.com.

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