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Environment and Energy

Testing reveals high levels of contaminants in residential drinking wells near SLO Airport

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More than a dozen Central Coast families are learning more about harmful chemicals detected in their drinking water. 

A number of residential wells south of the San Luis Obispo Regional Airport have tested positive for Trichloroethylene (TCE) and other toxic chemicals in levels above drinking standards. 

John Fiske is an environmental attorney with the firm leading the investigation. He's representing several of the families whose wells have been contaminated.

TCE is toxic to humans and animals and is commonly used as a degreaser.

"For example, the airline industry uses it to clean or degrease airplanes and airplane parts," said Fiske. "So, we started to wonder whether or not the nearby airport was a potential source of the TCE groundwater contamination, in the sense that the TCE chemical was not properly disposed of, or was disposed in some sort of tank that ended up leaking."

The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department has also tested several of the wells in the area and found similar results.

The source is unknown, but the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is investigating whether the SLO Regional Airport is a potential source.

Fiske said their organization is waiting on the results of several more samples and will continue to test wells in the area.

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