State water quality officials will close a public comment window next week regarding ongoing groundwater contamination near Forestville Elementary School.
Solvents from the old Electro Vector property on Covey Road have been detected for years in quantities that exceed state guidelines but have not posed a public health problem, according to state water quality officials.
But starting next month, the Electro Vector owners will undertake a pilot project at the site to treat groundwater contamination affecting the neighboring Forestville Elementary School property, according to the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (NCRWQCB).
The pilot study will inject “zero valent iron” into soil and groundwater beneath the site to cleanup chlorinated volatile organic compounds (CVOCs) associated with solvents used at the long-defunct Electro Vector plant, said a NCRWCQB public notice of the remediation plan.
The injection procedure is intended to reduce CVOC concentration “to levels that achieve water quality objectives for the protection of water supply sources,” says the public notice last month, announcing the pilot study and public comment period ending Dec. 29.
Forestville School parents and trustees had an opportunity to weigh in on the issue at an October school board meeting where state Water Quality Control Board officials fielded questions from school board members and the audience. NCRWQCB representatives assured parents and the board that the Electro Vector contaminants posed no health risks at Forestville Elementary School.
The school board audience questions focused on the extent of the groundwater contamination, the potential for indoor air contamination from the groundwater impacts, the possible risks to children from exposure to contaminated water and air and the results from recent and past indoor air testing at the school, said North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board staffer Paul Nelson in a report of the school board meeting. There was also some concern about the presence “of old hand dug and other water supply wells that may be present at the site, and on the school property,” said Nelson’s report.
The 1.5-acre Electro Vector site is owned by the Caloyeras family, whose companies manufacture custom electronics components for aerospace and defense industries. Electro Vector was one of the companies owned by Magnetika, Inc., founded in 1960 by Peter Caloyeras.
“People in Forestville have always known about it [the contamination],” said longtime Forestville resident Gary Harris, who was present at the October school board meeting.
The Caloyeras family has “always stood up” to monitor the site, said Harris. “They put the monitoring wells on the school property.”
Among Forestville residents keeping track of the Electro Vector issue is Forestville resident Hal Wood, a founder and retired president of the Russian River Utility Company, which operates several local water districts.
“It is imperative that this site be resolved as soon as possible,” said Wood in a September letter to NCRWQB staff member Paul Nelson who is overseeing the Electro Vector cleanup. “I have 9+ great grandchildren who will be attending the Forestville Union Elementary School for the next 10 to 15 years.”
The NCRWQCB has been monitoring the site since 2007, when solvents from the former Electro Vector operation were detected “in low concentrations in a limited area of shallow groundwater” beneath the Electro Vector facility that ceased operations in 1993, according to a NCRWQCB site evaluation. The contaminants, trichloroethylene (TCE) and an associated chemical, dichloroethene (DCE) are “common chemicals used in many different industries but are most commonly used as solvents for degreasing and parts cleaning,” said the NCRWQCB evaluation ten years ago.
The contaminant levels posed no human health concerns, but the evaluation recommended continued monitoring. The Caloyeras family trust submitted the cleanup proposal now being reviewed by the NCRWQCB.
Tentative conditions of the remediation plan include a groundwater and soil vapor monitoring program to ensure that chemicals associated with the cleanup activities don’t “adversely impact water quality or migrate from the site,” said the NCRWQCB public notice.
Online info is available at the state Water Board’s Geotracker website, case number 1NSO901. Or send written comments to North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board, Attn: Paul Nelson, 5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A, Santa Rosa, CA 95403.