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EPA Outlines Next Steps at the Capital City Plume Site in Montgomery, AL

Release date: 10/11/2011
Contact Information: James Pinkney, 404-562-9183,

Next Steps

1. EPA will communicate to building owners and the general public the results of indoor air quality and outside soil vapor sampling that took place in mid-August 2011 as soon as those results are available.
2. If warranted by the results of the sampling data, EPA may undertake additional sampling and/or mitigate exposure to contaminants through indoor air utilizing its emergency response authority.
3. EPA will conduct groundwater sampling and analysis of samples from the existing well network during the week of October 24 th .
4. EPA will hold a public availability meeting on Thursday, November 3, from 5-7 p.m. at the Montgomery Public Library located at 245 High Street to receive public input and answer Site-related questions. According to a U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report released on September 12, 2011, disposal of industrial wastewater by former printing operations into sumps, floor drains, and sinks that drained into sewer and storm-water systems are the likely cause of widespread groundwater contamination in downtown Montgomery.

The groundwater contamination in the area, dubbed the "Capital City Plume," was discovered in 1991, but the disposal of the contaminated water likely took place from at least the 1940s to 1970s. Previous investigations were unable to identify the source of the contamination.

The current study, conducted by the USGS' Alabama and South Carolina Water Science Centers, in cooperation with Region 4 of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, collected information from 2008 to 2010 to investigate the potential source area of contaminants detected in groundwater; the pathway of the groundwater contamination; and the timeframe of when the contaminants might have been released. Scientists collected pore water from Cypress Creek using passive-diffusion bag samplers; tissue samples from trees growing in areas in downtown Montgomery characterized by groundwater contamination and from trees growing along the Alabama River and Cypress Creek; and groundwater samples.

Analysis of the samples taken, combined with maps of historical land use since 1842, indicate that the perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE)-contaminated shallow aquifer beneath the Capital City Plume site likely resulted from past use and disposal of wastewater that contained chlorinated solvents into the sewer and stormwater systems by former printing operations that occupied multiple locations in downtown Montgomery.
Results from the study also show that a source of PCE and TCE still exists in the ground near an original release area, providing a continual source of PCE and TCE to the shallow and intermediate parts of the shallow aquifer beneath the city.

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