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Editorial: TCE mystery is (nearly) solved

Original post made on Jan 14, 2014

After many years of watching and reporting about EPA scientists and others tracking the underground migration of the toxic chemical trichloroethylene (TCE) from leaking tanks in the vicinity of N. Whisman Road to the discovery of other "hot spots" hundreds, if not thousands of feet away, it is remarkable that even today, the extent of TCE contamination in the city's soil and groundwater remains unclear.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, January 14, 2014, 11:45 AM

Comments (4)

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Posted by Juan
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:12 pm

Who if anyone is responsible for this?


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Posted by Focus on the Solution
a resident of The Crossings
on Jan 14, 2014 at 2:36 pm

The responsible people are from a company that has not existed for about, what, 40 years? Not sure any are still alive, and since they broke no laws at the time, what should be done to them anyway?


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Posted by Jeff
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Responsibility was certainly dealt with to a good degree. The MEW was an EPA Superfund site, with Fairchild, Intel and Raytheon spending tens of millions of dollars on various approved remediation efforts beginning in the 1980s. This program was of course based on the tech and science of the time. A major problem was and is that the subsurface hydrogeology of that area is quite jumbled, and it is very hard to find and remove every bit of the contamination. The remediation wells, for example, were intended to remove what was described as source contamination, not being able to provide control of a broad area. Many of the lines denoting how much TCE is where were based on extrapolations, not on clearly continuous data. If TCE went through sewers due to dumping, or followed sewer line trenches, it is sadly no surprise that it had escaped previous detection. One has to guess that this migration through other than natural means could help explain the Silva well.

The "merged plume" from MEW sources - the above named companies, not just Fairchild - went under Highway 101 into the Moffett area. It is also established that the Navy used TCE to wash down aircraft, the waste material ran off and much went into the ground under the aviation facility.

You can see pretty much all of these issues spoken to in the public comments, including some of the current players, back in the 2004 public comments on the then-draft EPA 5-Year Cleanup Review Report: Web Link That was after about twenty years of study and effort, and nearly ten years ago.


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Posted by Old Ben
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jan 20, 2014 at 10:17 am

Is anyone conducting any sort of health survey to determine whether this TCE plume has, in fact, triggered disease clusters in Mountain View? Specifically, leukemia, birth defects, and polycythemia vera.

Your million-dollar home might not be worth a dime.


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