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SLO County to test groundwater, soil at airport for toxic solvent

File photo of a commercial flight landing at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport.
File photo of a commercial flight landing at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

San Luis Obispo County will conduct tests of groundwater and soil at the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport later this month for trichloroethylene, an industrial solvent.

TCE has been detected in the groundwater near Buckley Road. The chemical is a probable human carcinogen and serious health concern.

The tests are a requirement of the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. Final results are expected to be delivered to the Water Board in the fall.

“While we haven’t found anything to indicate that the airport is the source of TCE found in nearby groundwater, we are still investigating and we’ll continue to do so until results are conclusive,” Assistant County Administrative Officer Guy Savage said.

Affected residents should use bottled water for cooking and drinking.

County officials say the water board is the regional regulatory agency responsible for protecting water quality. But the county is collaborating to resolve the issue, having spent months investigating and inspecting airport operations, reviewing records and observing operations around the airport.

The county also has been testing wells and has provided a variety of resources to residents who want to test their private well water systems.

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