Remediation of Colorado missile sites moves forward

November 5, 2014

Three abandoned missile silo sites in Colorado, which have been contaminated by artillery operations and testing pursued in the 1960s, are now the subject of remediation efforts pursued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The sites are located in north-central Colorado, near the Fort Collins area. According to the Billings Gazette, the Colorado sites average a contamination level of 3,600 parts per billion trichlorethylene.

Commonly used as an industrial solvent before 1970, trichlorethylene is water soluble, which means it can pose a risk to groundwater purity. The compound affects the central nervous system, with long-term exposure damaging the the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal system, and skin.
Fortunately, the low level of contamination at these sites should not pose a threat to nearby residents, according to Susan Newton, project manager at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The Army Corps of Engineers' progress has been made more difficult by the missile site's construction. The 315-foot-deep silos represent a challenge for remediation. The Corps' strategy is to inject the sites with potassium permanganate, which is difficult so far below ground. However, Newton said that progress has been moving forward.

"The movement on these sites has been satisfactory," Newton said. "I don't have a sense of any reluctance or foot dragging. If there was an immediate threat, this would have been maybe cleaned up sooner."

The same remediation strategy is also being considered to address similar missile sites in Wyoming, such as those surrounding Cheyenne. However, the source reports that injection may not be a sufficient strategy by itself, as the Wyoming sites are considerably more contaminated.

Environmental consultants can help to determine the most efficient and cost-effective manner of addressing remediation efforts.