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EPA Announces Cleanup Plan for Superfund Site in Atlantic, Iowa

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Ben Washburn (

Environmental News


EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Nov. 10, 2020) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has signed the Record of Decision (ROD) for the PCE Former Dry Cleaner Superfund Site in Atlantic, Iowa. The ROD outlines the cleanup plan the Agency has chosen for the former dry cleaner site that has groundwater contaminated by tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE). The cleanup plan calls for operation of a Groundwater Extraction and Treatment System (GETS) that will remove contamination from the groundwater.

“Cleaning up the contaminated groundwater at this Superfund site will preserve this important resource for current and future Iowans,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “We have seen time and time again that cleaning up these Superfund sites protects public health and the environment, while also leading to economic redevelopment opportunities.”

In addition to the GETS, the selected remedy also includes institutional controls (ICs), which consist of legal or administrative actions or requirements imposed on the property to minimize the potential for human exposure to contamination or to protect the integrity of remediation. The ICs consist of a city ordinance prohibiting the installation of private drinking water and non-drinking water wells within city limits. The ICs will prevent the ingestion of contaminated groundwater. EPA will also conduct routine groundwater monitoring on a semi-annual basis to evaluate the performance of the GETS and measure the stability of the contaminant plume.

The objective of the selected remedy is to protect human health and the environment, while restoring the aquifer to beneficial use (i.e., drinking water use) by cleaning up groundwater below maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) in a reasonable time frame. The cleanup levels are based on the Safe Drinking Water Act MCL of 5 micrograms per liter for both PCE and TCE.

PCE is a nonflammable colorless liquid, used as a dry-cleaning agent and metal degreasing solvent. It is also used as a starting material (building block) for making other chemicals and is used in some consumer products.

TCE is a highly volatile compound that is nonflammable and is a breakdown product of PCE. It is a colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor. TCE is used mainly to degrease metal parts, but it is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers.

The site was proposed for the National Priorities List (NPL) in September 2015 and was officially listed on the NPL in April 2016.

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