Newly released tests from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, show that TCE contamination on Montgomery's north side is spreading. Those tests show surface water contamination has crossed over the Northern Boulevard into areas where ADEM has not seen contamination before.
If there's any good news, it will be found in the numbers that ADEM is looking at. The contamination that's now come to the surface is in some sensitive wetlands area near Russell Athletics on the Northern bypass. So far, the amount of contamination is reletively low. But that can change.
Researchers say these areas, wetlands just north of the bypass, never showed surface contamination before now. Tests show contamination levels similar to those in the Chisholm and Vista View neighbhorhoods nearby. Clearly, the contamination is on the move, up from below ground, north from the original location.
"We know it's in the groundwater out that far already. We just didn't know the extent," said ADEM Researcher Joe Gibson.
The levels seen here are reletively low, but still not advisable for humans to spend any long period of time around. But that shouldn't be a problem. Most of this is wild land, fish, frogs and birds. If anyone or their pet were to venture in, they probably wouldn't stay long. Just north, Three Mile Creek, is also showing contamination but researchers say it may serve as a natural boundary.
"Well, it's moving water, and you've got a larger volume of water. So, if it does make it to that body of water, it will dilute it down to the point where we couldn't detect it," Gibson said.
ADEM says new underground tests near the Department of Transportation show consistently high contamination levels. But the Zoo - also tested three weeks ago - came through with flying colors with no detectable contamination.
It's important to remember that while these tests show TCE is on the move, pinning down just how bad the surface contamination is will take some time. Wind, sun, rain - all of those can change the concentration on the surface, so ADEM will continue these tests for a long time.