DNR Holds Public Forum For TCE Contamination

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SPRINGFIELD — The Department of Natural Resources talked about well-water testing results, and opened up the floor for citizens to share concerns.

There were about 200 people in attendance for Thursday’s meeting regarding TCE (trichloroethylene) at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex. 

DNR went over what it’s doing with Northup-Grummon — who owns the site that Litton Systems Inc. once sat on. Both the DNR and Northrup-Grummon say TCE was used on circuit boards at the old Litton plant. 

Vapors of the chemical were discovered at Fantastic Caverns late last year.

Traces of TCE were later found in water sources — in an area several miles wide — north of the Springfield airport.

DNR says that they tested 191 private and 16 homes that receive water from shared wells. 

Many tested positive — but just four were over the maximum contaminate level, meaning they were over the level that makes drinking water unsafe.

Dozens of resident spokes about their contamination concerns, and a few addressed their concerns with KOLR10 before the event started.

Vern Morgan says that while their wells have been treated, he wants to know what the plan is going forward. 

“I’d like to know what their plans are for more source treatment to try and get it before it continues moving, how their going to monitor it, where they’re going to establish monitoring areas,” Morgan says. 

Brian Quinn with DNR says it could take several years, potentially a couple decades, but they are trying to make sure things are done right. 

“Northup-Grumman is really driving this. It’s their responsibility to do much of the sampling, much of the cleanup – all of the cleanup. So we’re going to be overseeing their work and really just progressing to get a better idea of where the contamination is and what we need to do to take care of that,” says Quinn. 

Things got heated from time to time, with many people unsatisfied with what they heard from DNR and Northrop-Grummon, who had a panel of officials on hand. 

In the meantime, they are trying to keep contamination levels low enough to keep them being a danger to peoples health.

Testing will continue throughout the year with another public meeting tentatively scheduled for September to share results and get more public comment. 

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