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Airport Contamination Project Progressing

Todd Pittenger - September 25, 2015 10:59 am

Officials from the Dragun company discuss the contamination Friday morning.

Officials offered an update Friday morning on contamination in the  area of the Salina Regional Airport.

At issue is contamination, things like solvents that have seeped into the ground, left behind when the federal government vacated the former Schilling Air Force Base. The area is now the Salina Regional Airport. The main concern is two large underground plumes of contamination, one in the north part of the Airport Industrial Area, and another on the south end. A large plume of the solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, is in the groundwater and soil. TCE at the time was used as an industrial solvent and has since been classified as a human carcinogen.

The Dragun Corporation has been working on a remedial investigation since June of 2014. Some highlights of the investigation include:

  • 391 soil borings
  • 364 temporary monitoring wells installed
  • 68 permanent monitoring wells installed
  • 239 soil samples tested
  • 1,168 groundwater samples tested
  • 249 vapor samples tested
  • 3 aquifer tests

The most significant thing the investigation has revealed is that while the contamination is not really moving or spreading to a great degree, it has sunk lower and deeper than anticipated.  In one area, it has moved down into the bedrock. Officials from Dragun said that seeping into the bedrock is “significant”, because it is more difficult to clean up.

Officials have determined that in the area where the contamination has sunk the deepest the air force had been using 8,000 gallons of TCE a month.

Other major findings include:

  • Delineating 11 groundwater plumes
  • Pinpointed sources of most plumes
  • Groundwater impact
  • Vapor – no concentrations require immediate action

Officials said that there is no imminent threat of the contamination getting into the city water supply.

Dragun’s remedial investigation, which began in June of 2014, was scheduled to take 5 years. Officials indicated Friday that it will probably be completed sooner though, in 3.5 years.

The next phase of investigation work will begin in November, and last through the end of the year.

Once the remedial investigation is complete, Dragun will put together a corrective action plan on how to cleanup the contamination.

City of Salina