7 comments to “Novel Strategy for Dealing with Toxic Contamination: Do Nothing”

  1. Jennifer Farvour

    My husband served at Fort Ord and worked in the motor pool. The aquifers were contaiminated. He is now in end stage renal failure. He is only 55 years old. The VA has denied him service connected claims. Please investigate Fort Ord. It is listed as one of the worst Super Fund sites by the EPA. Public awareness needs to be made for veterans that served at the base.

  2. Jonathan

    There is concern that reliance upon MNA may undermine the development and use of innovative alternatives.

  3. Daniel Ross

    This is Dan Ross, the reporter on this story. In response to the thoughtful comment by Andres Cano, I’d like to point out some details of the story that I think he misconstrued.

    Andres, you say MNA can be used for a variety of contaminants–not just petroleum hydrocarbons–which does not contradict the story. As you can see, we mentioned petroleum hydrocarbons as just one example.

    You say that Mojave Desert communities don’t rely solely on groundwater, but also get imported water from Northern California. That is true, but imported water is used to recharge the aquifers. Our main point was that officials fear these aquifers could be contaminated by the spread of pollution from George AFB.

    I’d also like to think that any remarks in the article regarding arsenic and source zones in fact mirror the arguments you made in your comment.

    Anyway, you seem to agree with the main point of the story, which is that MNA is not only widely used, but abused in some circumstances.

  4. Brent Poll

    Brent Poll, Executive Director, South Weber Coalition

    No one disputes that some attenuation of certain pollutants occurs naturally over time. The fallacy here, with Hill AFB, concerns its inability to contain, or accurately define its migrating pollution.

    It allowed uncontrolled dumping of its pollution, for about 40 years, “all along” the hillside above the South Weber valley. Inordinately wet seasons in the 1980s flushed millions of gallons of its toxic chemicals and incalculable amounts heavy metals off-base. It tried belatedly to contain the remaining portion of its pollution on Base. Those efforts failed too as as documented in EPA mandated five-year reviews. Rather than learning from its failures and admitting that it has not and cannot control its pollution from migrating into our valley, it invoked MNA as its fall-back remedial choice. The Base proclaimed that this would resolve the risks inherent to its OU1 Superfund site at “some uncertain time in the 2040s.” If true, this would be about 80 years after pollution was first found migrating off-base into our valley..

    However, the Base’s claims are not factual. MNA prerequisites mandate containment of pollution sources before this controversial alternative can be considered. Hill AFB Base instead has a history of total failure specifically in this regard. Therefore anyone, stating that MNA is a viable remedial alternative for the Base’s OU1 site, is either being very foolish or dishonest when making such an indefensible claim.

    If there is a factual basis for a different view or argument, please share it with us.

  5. Donald Sexton

    I’ve been critical of this too. Although there are possibilities for biodegradation, mostly this is a bureaucratic designation for wait-&-see & unproven methods while ignoring & deliberately omitting risks, hazards, insidious effects, & lasting conditions … when futility & resignation can’t get admitted for obfuscation & deliberately avoiding responsibility & accountability for the lasting contamination & toxification that causes harm, ecosystem disruption, & public health issues. I perused the article & appreciate the criticism, but no mention about bio-accumulation, persistent organic pollutants, & other issues involved although I’m sure they are implied. I knew that TCE (trichloroethylene) would get mentioned, but that chem is among many other acute & chronic carcinogens, disruptors, & poisons that are used for industrial, maintenance, & many other purposes supporting military operations. They require & often have designated controls designed & imposed for preventing (or reducing) personal exposure & environmental release but others (among all levels & across all activities, whether military, civilian, politicrony, kleptocrat, corporateer, & else) are not as stringent & insistent about oversight as I. This has been verified & evident (even during the Veterans Day observance with congressperson Davis, a veteran indicated such an issue but Davis did not heed or pay attention & doesn’t get it or show requisite concern, along with other matters, but she is among many others that have indulged problems of corruption, negligence, & else), but those responsible are evading accountability by suggesting nature will take its course on resolving synthetic poisons supposedly without any consequences, as if … applying bioremediations with genetic engineering & nanotechnology has risks that need assessed & recognized compared with any possible benefits. Too often, the issues aren’t exposed & reported as this was the matter with applying SuperFund at the local level since the city, county, state, corporate, & other businesses would get exposed & admit fault for causing the conditions … yet people & other organisms are unaware about the risks, hazards, & lingering harm amid their community & environment, especially affecting & transported with water, air, or other means. Appreciate your involvement, representation, & concern.

  6. Andres Cano, P.G.

    Thank you for your article. In general, I agree that MNA is not always being adopted according to USEPA Guidances and is being abused under certain circumstances. However, I do want to point out a few inaccuracies.

    “MNA can be effective with contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons that are eaten by microbes in the soil and groundwater.” MNA can be utilized for other contaminants such as VOCs, perchlorate and others if the hydrogeological, chemical and biological conditions are at the specific site and have been confirmed with data.

    “Because it is usually much simpler and cheaper than active cleanup methods—such as pumping water out of the ground and treating it—they say that MNA is being aggressively pushed by polluters at many contaminated sites, often with too little pushback from regulators.” MNA is cheaper than pump and treat. However pump and treat is not a source removal technology it simply contains or prevents migration, it does not “clean up” the source. The amount of mass removed often is so little pump and treat systems have 1000 year completion timelines.

    “Their only source of drinking water is groundwater” “The Mojave Desert is the Mojave Desert. Their only source of drinking water is groundwater,” said Patty Kouyoumdjian, executive officer of the Lahontan water board.

    All three cities pump water from the Mojave Basin. The Mojave basin is artificially recharged with water from Northern California delivered from the state water project. Groundwater is NOT the only source of water see the links below to support this.


    Arsenic has several states some of which are less soluble. Arsenic does not “disappear but it can change its oxidation state.

    I agree that MNA is being misapplied but to say all people that employ it are liars is unsupportable. There ARE bacteria which eat contaminants, (dehalococoides spp.) water is diluted over time reducing concentration and chemicals degrade both physically and chemically. Again, I agree that MNA should only be done where it is proven with hydrogeologic, chemical and biological data, source removal and adequate monitoring networks. I also agree that these USEPA guidelines are not always being followed.

  7. Gene Presler

    President Donald Trump signs Executive Order urging dismantling of Clean Water Rule. Shameful!

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