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Located in Tumwater, WA, the Palermo Wellfield Superfund Site has two primary contaminants of concern, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. Several early action and long-term remedies have been taken at the site. Located in a light commercial and residential area, the site is surrounded by single-family dwellings, private businesses and recreation facilities. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency is evaluating whether there are additional remedies that should be employed at the site.

In 1993, the City of Tumwater detected trichloroethylene (TCE) in three of the city’s drinking water supply wells. The city initially removed the impacted wells from service. The Environmental Protection Agency constructed a treatment system that removes these contaminants from the water at the Palermo Wellfield. The source of the TCE was determined to be from industrial operations from former and current Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) facilities. In addition, a dry cleaning facility contaminated groundwater with tetrachloroethylene (PCE). The EPA installed a subdrain system and conducted source remediation at the drycleaners. The EPA currently re-evaluating the remedy and will determine if additional actions should be taken at this site

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

Even in advance of publishing the Record of Decision (ROD), which establishes the long-term cleanup plan for the Palermo Wellfield Superfund Site in October 1999, the EPA had taken several immediate actions to stop people’s exposure to the contaminants at the site. In the Spring of 1998, the EPA installed soil vapor extraction system at the Southgate Cleaners to cleanup a major source of tetrachloroethene, one of the main contaminants at the site. Also in advance of the ROD, the EPA completed the installation of two air strippers at the City of Tumwater’s Palermo Wellfield to remove contamination from the drinking water supply.

The ROD expanded the actions at the site to include installation of a sub-drain west of the residences in Palermo neighborhood to lower the groundwater table so that water containing volatile contaminants will not collect in the crawlspaces below residences. This action also included creating a treatment lagoon to clean the water prior to discharge from the site. The ROD also expanded the monitoring program.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

Under EPA’s oversight, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency are conducting additional studies to further delineate and characterize the TCE and PCE plumes. This work will be used to determine if additional remedial action should be proposed for this site.

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Emergency Response and Removal

Site cleanup has also included short-term cleanups to address immediate threats to human health and the environment. The City of Tumwater removed the impacted municipal supply wells from service in 1993. In 1998, EPA installed a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system under the dry cleaning facility and operated it until the summer of 2000 to remove PCE from the soils. In 1999, EPA constructed two air stripping towers at the city wellfield to remove contaminants from the groundwater.

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Enforcement Information

EPA settled with the owners of the Southgate Cleaners property in 2007. In 2006, the EPA and the Washington Department of Transportation contested liability in court. In 2007, the court found WSDOT liable for the TCE contamination.

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