A contaminated groundwater site in the Parker County community of Willow Park has been added to the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund list of top priority sites for future cleanup.The EPA announced Friday that the Circle Court Ground Water Plume, just east of the Parker County Airport, was one of two contamination sites in Texas added to the National Priorities List.Routine testing of Willow Park city water wells in 2006 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality found traces of the industrial cleaning solvent trichloroethene, more commonly known as TCE or trichloroethylene.EPA spokeswoman Jennah Durant said the agency believes there is a 1/2-mile long plume of contaminated ground water extending from the site, along Russell Road. The site is south of Interstate 20 and near the intersection of Russell Road and Circle Drive.Tests after the initial discovery found the city water supply and five private wells in the vicinity contained TCE in levels above what is considered safe for human consumption. Willow Park shut down the city wells and installed a carbon filter to provide safe drinking water for affected residents.The EPA and state agencies took steps in August to notify residents of the area, including holding a public meeting.Efforts by the EPA and TCEQ to identify the source of the contamination have so far been unsuccessful."We can't speculate. We don't have any idea right now," Durant said.Willow Park Mayor Richard Neverdosky said the initial investigation found buried, empty drums labeled TCE near the site, but no one had any idea how they got there.The industrial solvent, long commonly used for cleaning grease from manufacturing tools and machines, has been found in soil and groundwater contaminant at more than 1,500 hazardous waste sites, according to the EPA's web site.Finding who caused itThe EPA action will eventually lead to greater testing and steps to mitigate the polluted water.The next step for the sites added Friday is for the EPA to identify whether there are companies or individuals who are responsible for the contamination. If so, they'll be required to pay for the cleanup or to do it themselves. But if the EPA can't locate a responsible party, the government is on the hook to conduct the decontamination, The Associated Press reported.Securing the federal funding needed to start those cleanups could take years, the EPA said, meaning residents in affected areas may have to continue living near environmental hazards for some time.Scrutiny of the program's slow progress has long-dogged the EPA. Environmental groups and some Democratic lawmakers assailed former President George W. Bush's record for cleaning up Superfund sites, then reassigned that criticism to President Barack Obama, whose administration addressed the sites at an even slower pace during his first two years of office.The EPA said that 360 sites have been cleaned up since the Superfund program was created in 1983. That's a small fraction of the 1,676 sites that have been added to the list -- including the 12 added Friday. Fifty-four proposed sites are awaiting final determinations by the EPA.EPA help welcomedWillow Park City Administrator Candy Scott said she was glad to see the EPA decision."I think it's good for the city because they're actually going to do testing and find where the plume is located and what has to be done to clean it up," she said.Neverdosky said the EPA's response was "slowed by bureaucratic procedures," but he's confident that the problems will be corrected and remediation funded by the federal government.While the city started filtering the water immediately after being notified of the contamination, Neverdosky was concerned for residents whose private wells draw from the same source."Absolutely it's a good thing for everybody," he said. "We don't need something like that messing up our water supply. The Paluxy is the upper aquifer at about 200 feet deep. The deeper one is sometimes called the Trinity at 600 to 700 feet. Willow Park draws from both aquifers."Chawn Gilliland, a seven-year Willow Park resident, said that he's encouraged to know that the EPA is involved."That means that something's going to be done," he said. "I'm glad the EPA is stepping in to maybe correct this."Gilliland said he and his family have complained about the water for years."You wouldn't believe the sediments in our water," he said. "We'll cook with it, but we won't drink it."Also added to the Superfund cleanup list was the US Oil Recovery site in Pasadena, an old waste oil and wastewater treatment facility in Harris County.The site is contaminated with volatile organics solutions, metals and mercury. Releases of arsenic, barium, cobalt, manganese, mercury, silver and vanadium have been documented in both surface water and sediment within Vince Bayou, threatening nearby wetlands.This includes material from The Associated Press.Terry Evans, 817-390-7620Bob Cox, 817-390-7723
New to Superfund list
Vincent, Ala. -- Alabama Plating Co. Inc., a former electroplater.
West Helena, Ark. -- Cedar Chemical Corp., a former chemical manufacturer.
Jacksonville, Fla. -- Fairfax St. Wood Treaters, a former wood treating operation.
Galena, Ill. -- Bautsch-Gray Mine, a former lead and zinc mine.
Jennings, La. -- EVR-Wood Treating/Evangeline Refining Co., a former wood treating operation
Leeds, Maine -- Leeds Metal, an abandoned scrap metal facility.
Yadkinville, N.C. -- Holcomb Creosote Co., a former wood treating operation.
Orange, N.J., and West Orange, N.J. -- Orange Valley Regional Ground Water Contamination, a ground water plume.
Kings Mills, Ohio -- Peters Cartridge Factory, a former ammunition manufacturer.
Troy, Ohio -- West Troy Contaminated Aquifer, a ground water plume.
Willow Park, Texas -- Circle Court Ground Water Plume.
Pasadena, Texas -- U.S. Oil Recovery, a former used oil recovery operation.
Newly proposed Superfund sites include:
Martinsville, Ind. -- Pike and Mulberry Streets PCE Plume, a former dry cleaner.
Iola, Kan. -- Former United Zinc & Associated Smelters
Danvers, Mass. -- Creese & Cook Tannery, a former finishing facility and tannery.
Attleboro, Mass. -- Walton & Lonsbury Inc., a former chrome plating operation.
Woolwich Township, N.J. -- Matlack Inc., a former chemical transportation business.
Newark, N.J. -- Riverside Industrial Park, a former paint manufacturer.
Harriman, Tenn. -- Clinch River Corp., a former pulp and paper mill.
Salt Lake City -- 700 South 1600 East PCE Plume, a ground water plume.