Consultant outlines TCE cleanup effort

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Northrop Grumman is continuing to deal with the trichloroethylene problem at the former TRW plant site in McCook.

Kurt Batsel of Dextra Group, consultants for Northrop Grumman, the company that is now responsible for the cleanup site, spoke to the McCook City Council on Monday night.

Batsel said the company is continuing the clean up through two packed-column air stripping towers and is conducting a pilot study to help expedite the cleanup efforts.

The air stripping towers, which have been used since the cleanup effort began in 1993, remove the TCE from groundwater pumped into the contaminated site and is then dispersed into the atmosphere.

According to Batsel, the process releases about 10 pounds of TCE into the atmosphere each year, well below the 5,000 pounds allowed by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Once the TCE is released into the air, it is destroyed by natural UV light as well as other atmospheric components and never reaches the ground.

A bioremediation program is also proving to be successful, Batsel told the council. The process injects molasses into the groundwater, increasing the growth of natural bacteria that destroys TCE.

According to Batsel, the company has been in contact with Mark and Cathy Carman in an attempt to do a complete study of possible contamination levels in their home. The Carmans claim their home is filled with airborne TCE.

Batsel told the council the company needs access to the home to determine if the contamination is coming from the ground, from external influences or from something within the house.

According to Batsel Northrop Grumann has offered to install a gas abatement system in the Carman home, but was not allowed to do so.

The company has also received approval from the NDEQ to begin using two extraction wells, one of which is on the Carman property, to increase the clean up efforts, however it has not been granted access to the Carman property.

Members of the public were not allowed to comment during the one-hour presentation.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: