- Associated Press - Monday, April 28, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Army Corps of Engineers is trying to determine the extent of a plume of contaminated groundwater seeping from a 1960s-era missile site west of Cheyenne.

The corps says it’s in the midst of a multiyear effort to monitor, contain and treat the groundwater, which contains trichloroethylene, or TCE.

Officials say the pollution doesn’t pose a major health risk because Cheyenne’s drinking water is treated, and so is well water used by many rural residents.

But some local residents and elected officials raised concerns at a meeting Thursday that people living on the edge of the plume could still be in danger, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Monday (http://tinyurl.com/lmsqjex ).

“There are people that live on the west side of Cheyenne who don’t have city water that are right on the edge of this,” said Rep. Lee Filer, D-Cheyenne. “They are on well water, and is there anything that the Army Corps is doing in the future?

“Because people right on the edge of this have to live with this situation - hoping that they don’t have too high of TCE when they are drinking the water and using it to make food for their children,” he said.

Drew Reckmeyer of the Corps of Engineers downplayed potential public safety concerns but said officials are still trying to determine how far east the plume extends toward the city.

“I think there is concurrence that we don’t really know where the leading edge of this is,” he said. “I don’t think there is any disagreement on that.

“But I just want to say there is intent to better define the plume with the best information we have to do that.”

Reckmeyer added tests have come up negative for the chemicals in well samples at a truck stop near the College Drive interchange on Interstate 25.

TCE was found in the area in the 1990s. Officials said it was used to clean the silo, but some of it spilled and leaked into the soil and groundwater.

Studies show TCE can damage the liver if ingested.

Jeff Skog, project manager for the Corps of Engineers, said it could take 100 or 200 years to remove the chemicals from the groundwater.

For now, the agency is focusing on protecting the public and gathering data.

The Defense Department has spent about $15.8 million on the groundwater contamination project over the past decade.

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