Todd Downham of DEQ (Left) speaks to a resident during a public meeting about the Eagle Industries Superfund site in Midwest City. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)
DEQ says contractor to begin drilling test wells soon
By Jeff Harrison
Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality staff last week updated residents on the cleanup efforts at a polluted former industrial property in Midwest City.
The state agency hosted an informational meeting June 18 at the Nick Harroz Midwest City Community Center to discuss Eagle Industries, 10901 SE 29th Street. The property was added to the EPA’s Superfund National Priorities List after illegal dumping caused groundwater and soil contamination.
Midwest City area residents ask questions during an informational public meeting about the Eagles Industries Superfund site. The Oklahoma DEQ hosted the meeting June 18 at the Nick Harroz Community Center. (Staff photo by Jeff Harrison)
Amy Brittain, DEQ environmental programs manager, said they are working to determine the extent of the contamination and will soon begin drilling monitor wells within a ½ mile radius of the property.
“We’ll have different phases of testing and that’s what we’re working on now,” said Brittain. “We’ll build off of what we learn and determine where we need to test next.”
The state hired Terracon to handle the testing. The national consulting engineering firm specializes in environmental, facilities, geotechnical and materials services. They should begin sampling in the field in the next few months.
The DEQ offers free testing of water wells within a ½ mile radius of Eagles Industries. Brittain said they have tested 44 wells in 2018. Public water is not impacted by the Eagle Industries property.
The DEQ employees gave a presentation about the history of Eagle Industries property and steps that led to its designation as a Superfund site.
Eagle Industries inspected and repaired aircraft oxygen and fire extinguishers for third party customers from 1990 until the 2010s. In 2003, a DEQ site inspection found improper handling practices of the chemical trichloroethylene or TCE. The chemical was found in soil and ground water on the site.
Trichloroethylene is a common industrial solvent used to clean airplane parts. The chemical is toxic and may increase chances of causing cancer if exposed through drinking, breathing or touching, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. It also breaks down very slowly in soil and water.
Eagle Industries entered into a legal consent order with DEQ to address environmental concerns and performed some work to clean up the site. In 2009, DEQ determined that the facility had a limited ability to pay for any additional environmental cleanup work at the site.
The DEQ and EPA have performed several preliminary investigations of the site to collect soil and groundwater data. Based on those findings, the EPA added the site to the Superfund National Priorities List on Jan. 18, 2018. Superfund is the federal government’s program to clean up the nation’s uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Cleaning up Superfund sites is a multi-phase process.
The Eagle Industries property is in the remedial investigation phase of the process. The step involved collecting environmental samples from the site to determine the extent of contamination.
The state has hired Terracon to assist in the investigation phase to determine the type and extent of the contamination both onsite and offsite. DEQ and Terracon personnel will soon begin collecting soil samples, installing ground water wells, sampling ground water, performing tests on the ground water aquifer and collecting air samples.
Ground water monitoring wells will be drilled at Eagle Industries as well as offsite to collect ground water data. The data will assist with understanding the vertical and horizontal extent of contamination in the ground water at Eagle Industries and surrounding properties.
Aquifer tests will be performed using the ground water monitoring wells to help understand:
• The layers of rock that compose the aquifer.
• How the rock layers are connected to each other
• How fast the ground water and contamination are moving through the aquifer.
Air samples will be collected to see if there has been an impact on the air from vapors coming from the contamination in the ground water and soil.
Contaminated ground water has been detected in some drinking water wells. DEQ is offering residential drinking water well testing once a year for properties within a ½ mile radius of the site. Residential drinking water wells that have contamination levels above maximum standards are tested quarterly. Midwest City’s municipal water system, which is fed by Lake Thunderbird, is not impacted by the Eagle Industries contamination.
After the presentation, DEQ officials took questions from the crowd. Several people expressed concerns about active housing additions near the Eagle Industries Site. Brittain said they have not found significant levels of TCE in residential water wells in the area but are continuing testing. She said a well at a business near the site did have elevated levels of TCE. The business installed a filtration system that removes the chemical.
One person asked about vapor intrusion when contaminants build up in the air. Brittain said they are not sure if that is an issue with the Eagle Industries site, but the investigation will include air sampling.
“If we did find unacceptable exposure the EPA has an emergency response program that we’d work closely with on it,” Brittain said.
Other people asked about the spread of the contamination in the groundwater. DEQ officials said they believe the contamination migrates slowly through the groundwater. Brittain said they are unsure how deep in the ground that contamination spread but they hope to learn more from Terracon’s deeper sample wells.
“We’re finding that it’s a very slow moving process but we want to be able to calculate the flow rate,” she said.
For more information, visit DEQ’s Eagle Industries website: https://go.usa.gov/xnm2v. As site documents are prepared they will be available on DEQ’s website and at the Midwest City Public Library.
The DEQ and EPA will hold future informational meetings to update progress of the cleanup.