DALLAS — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New Mexico Environment Department have completed the installation of a new system to address contamination from a plume of chemicals in Grants, N.M.
The chemicals, called chlorinated solvents, are believed to have come from a dry-cleaning business. The contamination spread through soils and a shallow aquifer under the city, which led the EPA to designate the site for cleanup under the Superfund program.
The new system includes more than 570 wells placed throughout the plume. The wells are filled with emulsified vegetable oil, which stimulates the breakdown of the chlorinated solvents. The EPA also installed systems within 15 private residences that prevent vapors from contaminated soil from entering the homes. These structures complement earlier treatments that extracted about 1,000 pounds of contamination.
Prolonged exposure to the main contaminant, tetra chloroethene or PCE, can damage the nervous system and cause liver and kidney problems. The cleanup prevented contamination from spreading to the city’s drinking water wells, located two miles north of the plume, and to the San Andreas aquifer, the source of drinking water for Grants and nearby Milan, N.M.