U.S. Water News Online
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will take over responsibility for cleaning up one source of Cheyenne's drinking water that has been reported to contain trichloroethylene, or TCE, officials said.
Officials said the water is currently safe because the city has been treating it since traces of TCE were first detected 10 years ago.
During the Cold War era, the chemical was used as a cleanser and lubricant in nuclear missile maintenance east of Cheyenne. The chemical can affect the central nervous system and cause liver and kidney damage.
Jane Francis, geological supervisor at the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said the Corps has been studying TCE in Cheyenne's water for seven years. At least part of the contamination is believed to originate from the former Atlas No. 4 missile site, she said.
Paul Johnston, public affairs officer for the Omaha district of the Corps of Engineers, said the Department of Defense has charged the Corps with administering a program to clean up former defense sites, including missile sites. The Army Corps is still investigating a possible second source of TCE, he said.
In the meantime, the city is paying $20,000 annually to remove the TCE before it gets to residents' taps. The city also paid $600,000 to remove the chemical when it was first found 10 years ago.
Francis said the some water might need to be treated for TCE for the next 100 to 300 years and hopes the Corps will finance the long-term treatment.
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