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U.S. EPA orders TCE groundwater investigation in Gila River Indian Community: Romic Environmental, Plymouth Tube must research past chemical releases

Release Date: 12/19/2007
Contact Information: Contact: Francisco Arcaute (213) 244-1815, cell (213) 798-1404

SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, working with the Gila River Indian Community, has ordered Plymouth Tube Company and Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation to investigate possible past trichloroethylene releases within the Gila River Indian Community, near Chandler, Ariz.

Records show that Plymouth Tube, a specialty tubing supplier, used TCE in their operations prior to 2000. It is believed that the groundwater contamination at the Romic facility may be related to the operations of Southwest Solvents, which operated the facility prior to 1988.

"The EPA and the Gila River Indian Community are working closely together to ensure a thorough investigation of contamination on these tribal lands," said Nancy Lindsay, acting waste division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "With the full cooperation of the tribe, Plymouth Tube Company, and Romic Environmental Technologies Corporation, we want to ensure that this groundwater resource, the tribe's sole source of drinking water, is protected from historic chemical contamination."

Both groundwater investigations are a critical piece of the Gila River Indian Community’s North Central Project, which addresses past tribal land and groundwater contamination while protecting natural resources.

Based on current data, the trichloroethylene releases within the Gila River Indian Community are not near any drinking water wells.

"The Gila River Indian Community is pleased to be working closely with the EPA on this contamination site," said Margaret Cook, Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, Gila River Indian Community. "The Community is also working collaboratively with both Romic and Plymouth Tube to design a complete investigation of the contamination site as well as a remediation plan for cleaning up the site.”

If the investigations show groundwater contamination linked to these two companies, Plymouth Tube Company and Romic Environmental will be ordered to develop specific groundwater cleanup plans.

TCE has been found in at least 852 of the 1,430 National Priorities List sites identified by the EPA. The chemical is a colorless liquid which is used as a solvent to clean grease from metal parts. Drinking small amounts of TCE for long periods may cause liver and kidney damage, impaired immune system function, and impaired fetal development in pregnant women, although the extent of some of these effects is not yet clear. Skin contact with TCE for short periods may cause skin rashes.

The EPA has set a maximum contaminant level for TCE in drinking water at 0.005 milligrams per liter or 5 parts of TCE per billion parts water which is equivalent to a few drops in a standard size swimming pool. The EPA has regulations for the handling and disposal of TCE.

For more information, please contact: John R. Moody, US EPA Project Manager, (415) 972-3346 or Glenn Stark, GRIC DEQ Water Quality Manager, (520) 562-2234.

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