Sand Creek: Benzene levels have stabilized but the long-term mitigation schedule is cloudy for Suncor groundwater plume


From The Denver Post (Karen E. Crummy):

Current data show that surface-water levels of benzene at the point where the creek meets the South Platte River are still much higher than standards for drinking water, but remain stable. And the source of the leak — a pipe within the refinery — is fixed. But one health department official says a “mass of contamination” continues to dissolve into the groundwater, and isolated pockets of pollution — much of it underground — are spread over large areas within the refinery and off-site, making it difficult to locate.

While the state health department has tapped various methods of remediation, officials say it will take another two months to determine their effectiveness. Walter Avramenko, head of the state’s Hazardous Waste Corrective Action Unit, said it took two decades to study and remedy historical contamination at the refinery, part of a 75-year-old industrial site, and come up with a long-term management plan. “It took only a short period of time to reverse all those gains, and we’re not planning to wait another 20 years to fix it. We’re pushing the refinery very hard,” Avramenko said. “This is a very difficult, complex hydrogeologic environment for which there are no easy solutions.”

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