USGS Washington Water Science Center
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During the investigation of a jet fuel bulk storage area, trichloroethene (TCE) was detected in ground water beneath McChord Air Force Base, near Tacoma, Washington. Monitoring wells were installed on the base to determine the extent of the TCE. In March 2000, after six monitoring wells were installed in the residential area to the west of the base, TCE was detected at concentrations above the cleanup level in samples from three of the wells. The source of the contamination is unknown, but spills and improper disposal of solvents that may have been used on the base are suspected.
To help McChord Air Force Base in its remedial investigation to determine the full extent of the TCE in ground water, the USGS is studying the use of tree cores to define the extent of contamination. The tree-core method has the potential to detect TCE while eliminating the expense of installing and sampling more monitoring wells on and near the base.