Editorial

Ban on TCE is long overdue

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Is the Biden Administration poised to do something about your water bill?

Well, not really; but the EPA is finally going to do something about a chemical which, had it been eliminated decades ago, might have made it unnecessary for the City of McCook to build and operate a state-of-the-art water treatment facility at tens of millions of dollars and counting.

The administration is proposing a ban on trichloroethylene, a highly toxic chemical commonly used in stain removers, adhesives and degreasers.

The men and women who worked at the TRW plant on Airport Road recall it as ďtrichlorĒ and while no one might recall or admit doing it, after it was used to manufacture electronic components, it was dumped out on the ground, where it found its way into the groundwater and spread into a plume extending into the valley to the southeast.

There it sat until it was discovered by the city while it was searching for water uncontaminated by another dangerous chemical, the nitrates that slipped by the corn crop they were supposed to fertilize.

TRW wasnít the only manufacturer to use TCE, of course; itís great for cleaning carpets, polishing horseís hooves, cleaning brakes, making pepper spray and acting as a lubricant.

Along the way, however, itís thought to be a carcinogen and liver toxin, harmful to male reproduction, causing neurological damage, damaging kidneys and causing Parkinsonís disease.

Officials point to TCE water contamination as the leading suspect in cancer clusters at military bases and elsewhere.

Despite being responsible for creating several Superfund sites, as much as 250 million pounds of TCE are still being produced in the United States, much of it ending up in the. Water.

Efforts to restrict TCE extend back to the Carter administration, and the Obama administrationís proposed 2016 restrictions were derailed by the Trump administration. Bidenís EPA plans to take restrictions as far as an outright ban, something the agency rarely does.

The proposed ban on TCE by the Biden Administration represents a significant step toward rectifying a decades-long environmental concern that has affected communities like McCook.

TCE, of course, wasnít the only problem with McCookís water, of course; there are still nitrate problems and a million-dollar miss-step in purchasing the old McCook Army Airbase didnít do anything to help the local water customerís wallet.

But an outright ban on TCE would be a good step toward demonstrating a commitment to safeguarding our environment and ensuring that the mistakes of the past do not continue to impact future generations.

Itís a crucial stride toward cleaner water, healthier lives, and a more sustainable future for all.

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