Cleanup of Army Lab Spill Nearing Completion

Valley News Staff Writer
Published April 12, 2003

HANOVER -The U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover is preparing to wrap up the remedial action plan it began some 12 years ago in response to a trichloroethylene spill that CRREL officials discovered on the site in 1990.

Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a colorless liquid used as a solvent for cleaning metal parts. Drinking or breathing high levels of the chemical may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma and possibly death.

But after what they called extensive investigations, CRREL offlcials determined in 1990 that the contamination at the Hanover site did not pose a threat to human health or the environment, nor had there been off-site migration of the contaminated ground water.

Investigators traced the spill to separate leaks from a storage tank and an experimental ice well, and the 1970 explosion of another tank.

"CRREL investigated several remedial technologies at the site. Those investigations were successful and have now been concluded," lab officials said in a news release they issued yesterday.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services approved the remediation plan that included construction of a ground water treatment plant. The Army requires that a "decision document" between it and the state be prepared as a binding legal agreement regarding the cleanup. The drat decision and the remedial action plan will be available at the lab for public examination from Monday through May 16. A public meeting will be held al CRREL on April 30 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Bob Sleuen, remediation program manager for the project, said yesterday that CRREL researchers came up with a "chemical oxidation" plan that reduced the TCE to harmless levels.

"The cleanup has gone very well. This is the final stage of the cleanup. Anyone who has any questions on this can get copies of the documents, contact me, Contact the state, and certainly come to our public meeting." Sletten said.