Feds to take over monitoring of Maquoketa contamination

MAQUOKETA (AP) — A federal agency intends to assume the monitoring of contamination from a carcinogenic chemical that’s spread from a factory site in the eastern Iowa city of Maquoketa.
The Telegraph Herald reported that the Environmental Protection Agency is developing a plan for testing at the Clinton Engines Museum site and the surrounding area for potential groundwater and vapor contamination. Previous testing revealed groundwater contamination from trichloroethene.
The contamination stems from the operations of Clinton Machine Co., which built small engines in Maquoketa from 1950 into the 1990s. The factory used trichloroethene, commonly known as TCE, as a degreasing agent. Federal authorities have since determined that TCE is carcinogenic.
The city took over the site in 2000 and tore down much of the facility, leaving only the office building. It now houses the museum. Contaminants have been detected in groundwater up to two-thirds of a mile away. Authorities have said TCE in groundwater also creates the potential for indoor contamination. As the contaminated water evaporates, TCE can be carried as a vapor into structures through foundation cracks.
City officials sent letters to residents last month seeking voluntary participants in a monitoring program.