Groundwater Monitoring at NETL-Albany
Ground Water Testing Program
NETL is committed to the safety and health of its employees and of nearby residents and to protecting the environment. As part of a DOE environmental protection program, NETL initiated a ground water monitoring program in 2001 with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to evaluate the groundwater flowing beneath the Albany, OR facility. Ground water monitoring wells were installed at that time, and periodic samples were taken.
In March 2005, a newly-installed monitoring well on NETL's property indicated elevated ground water levels of a chemical commonly used as a degreaser or solvent until the late 1970’s, trichloroethene (TCE). TCE is of concern because prolonged exposure may cause health problems, and it has been identified as a probable human carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).
The initial test results detected TCE in the ground water at a level above Oregon DEQ's safe drinking water levels for residential well water. The sample was found approximately 30 feet below the surface and within approximately 15 feet of the site's eastern property boundary along Liberty Street. The Oregon DEQ and Greater Albany Public School officials were contacted with this information. Additional testing was conducted to determine if the TCE in the ground water had migrated onto Liberty Elementary School grounds. Ground water analyses did find detectable levels of TCE in the ground water beneath the school grounds. Monitoring wells have been installed on the school grounds in the area of the athletic fields where the detectable levels of TCE have been found.
Residential drinking water wells were also tested in areas surrounding the site. TCE and certain other chemicals were found in very small amounts in some of the wells. NETL has connected the affected residential drinking water well owners with City of Albany water. The Oregon DEQ asked DOE to contract with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, to conduct a health risk evaluation of the levels of the chemicals in the ground water and the drinking water wells. The ATSDR report was published in October 2006 and contains information on the levels of contamination in the community and the associated health risks of being exposed to these chemicals. The report can be found at http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/HAC/pha/AlbanyResearchCenter/AlbanyResearchCenterHC10.25.06.pdf.
NETL continues to sample air, soils, and ground water both on the site and in nearby areas.