New wells in Algona to be used to gauge spread of contamination

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ALGONA, Wash. -  

Quick Facts:

  • 12 long-term wells being installed
  • DOE testing for the toxic chemical TCE
  • Boeing used TCE to clean airplane parts
  • Ecologists using new wells to determine spread of chemical

Starting Monday, residents in Algona will see new wells going in that state ecologists will use to look for the spread of a toxic solvent used by Boeing for decades.

Twelve new long-term wells are being installed throughout Algona.

The work is just getting underway.

The new wells will help the Department of Ecology get a better grasp on how widespread the contamination zone is.    

There are already more than 200 groundwater test wells across the Auburn area.

The state Department of Ecology is testing for the toxic chemical trichloroethylene, or TCE.

Exposure to its vapors alone can make someone sick.

The Boeing Company used tons of TCE as a solvent to clean airplane parts between 1966 and 1980.

Over time, the chemical seeped into the ground and has been spreading through groundwater under homes and buildings for years.

Even though the state had been studying the contamination for years, hundreds of residents didn't learn about the concern until a KIRO 7 investigation last year.

The Department of Ecology then held emergency community meetings.

Boeing has been working with the state and has agreed to pay for the cleanup. But first, ecologists need to know exactly where and how much TCE has spread underground.

 According to the Department of Ecology, surface water samples taken this past winter showed either no detectable contamination or concentrations below levels expected to cause health problems.

Drinking water remains safe for people in Algona.