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Companies fault city of Bethany for groundwater pollution

Posted November 28

— Two companies that operated a now closed aerospace plant argue that groundwater pollutants threatening to contaminate the city of Bethany's municipal water supply are a result of the city's 67-year-old clay sewer pipes, not the shuttered plant.

A plume of the solvent tetrachloroethylene, or TCE, extends from the closed plant and is threatening Bethany's nearby water wells, according to The Oklahoman (http://bit.ly/2gBiWBY ).

TCE was used to degrease metal aircraft parts at the former aerospace plant, which was operated by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and Rockwell Automation Inc. plant at Wiley Post. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, TCE is known to cause liver problems and increase cancer risk in humans.

City Attorney David Davis said Bethany's sewer system isn't to blame. The city filed a federal lawsuit in September saying the two companies are responsible.

Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality records show that the groundwater pollutants have been found in concentrations as high as eight times the federal limit. The findings contradict the companies' argument that the pollutants in the groundwater fall below federal limits.

In their counterclaims, the companies said Bethany's share of the cleanup costs will be in excess of $125,000.

"Bethany has refused to take any action to address contamination that originated on its own property, instead seeking to shift blame to entities that have no responsibility for the contamination," the companies said.

Gulfstream Aerospace spokeswoman Heidi Fedak said the two companies are installing a containment trench to prevent contamination from moving off the site.

Davis said the city is not using any of the polluted water, and is testing the water monthly.

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