A Forensic Approach to Solve a Ground Water Contamination Problem

In 2000, a subdivision outside a small city in southeast Texas discovered that the water supply wells that individual households had drilled were contaminated with trichloroethylene or TCE as it is commonly called. Since the extent of TCE contamination seemed to extend for over a mile in length, it was thought the “event” or “events” leading to the contamination had occurred some years ago. The shape of the plume seemed to indicate that the source of the TCE contamination originated at a closed industrial facility located approximately 600 yards north of the subdivision. However, the width and shape of the plume implied that there might have been more than one source or that ground water flow had shifted direction in the past. Finally, one particular well serving a small commercial facility located at the western edge of the plume seemed to have the highest concentration of TCE.

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