Pilot study underway to cleanup EDC spill
It's been twenty years since a massive chemical spill happened near the Interstate 10 Calcasieu River Bridge.
After all this time that spill is still not cleaned up.
But just to the south of the bridge- is a huge crane where a pilot project is underway to try to remove what's left of the chemical spill there.
In 1994 a pipeline between what was then Condea Vista and the Conoco refinery leaked millions of pounds of ethylene dichloride. The companies names have changed but cleanup continues. Five recovery wells pump contaminated water from underground as they have for many years.
Phillips 66 has a pilot project that the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality oversees.
"They have this enormous drill that they drill down. It's four feet in diameter. And as they drill they pump down some steam," said Greg Langley, press secretary for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.
Langley says they heat the EDC so it can be stripped from the steam.
"Steam will actually cause the EDC to boil, which has a lower boiling point than water. So the water doesn't boil but the EDC does. As the EDC boils they can collect and strip it with a vacuum system and it is sent to a special container and it is condensed. And what they get is pretty much pure EDC," said Langley.
Right now, Langley says the EDC extends forty feet down. He says there's equipment on site that allows real time analyses so they know once an area is clean. Langley says the technology is promising.
"We're pretty excited about it. It has worked in other places. It's the first time this has been done in Louisiana,"said Langley.
EDC is considered a cancer causing chemical and one they don't want out in the environment.
"It's a threat to the public health. They want to contain it and not allow it to be leached into any groundwater or any place else in the environment. They want to remediate the site and remove this dangerous chemical from the soil," said Langley.
It's presence underground has contributed to ongoing delays in replacing the I-10 Calcasieu River Bridge. DEQ says they don't know when the cleanup may be complete.
A spokesman for Phillips 66 says the pilot study is to test the technology before full scale implementation.
Michael Barnes says testing shows "EDC impacts in the path of the new i-10 bridge are below established cleanup standards and...no cleanup is required in the path of the proposed new bridge." He says the technology would be to cleanup other areas. Barnes complete statement follows this story.
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Statement from Michael Barnes of Phillips 66:
"Phillips 66 is conducting a pilot study to remediate residual ethylene dichloroethane (EDC) impacts south of Isle of Capri Boulevard in a safe and proactive manner. The purpose of the pilot study is to test the technology that will be used to remediate the residual EDC impacts prior the full scale implementation. We will continue to work with the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LDOTD), Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), as well as local stakeholders on this important study."
"Several years of groundwater sampling and analysis have demonstrated that EDC impacts in the path of the new I-10 bridge are below established cleanup standards, and no cleanup is required in the path of the proposed new bridge. This pilot study is intended to evaluate cleanup methods that would be employed south of Isle of Capri Boulevard, and away from the proposed new bridge."