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Industrial Strength Clean-up

Industrial Strength Clean-up

At a cost of $14.2 million, the U.S. Air Force has built a system that, to date, has cleaned 52 million gallons of contaminated water.

BY DENNIS DOMRZALSKI 

A massive new weapon has now been deployed in the battle to clean up the Kirtland Air Force Base fuel leak: 40,000 pounds of granular activated carbon that is stripping aviation fuel constituents out of the contaminated water table.

At a cost of $14.2 million, the U.S. Air Force has built a system of three extraction wells, pipes and a 4,000-square-foot, full-scale treatment plant, complete with two metal vessels that each hold 20,000 pounds of carbon. To date, the system has cleaned 52 million gallons of water contaminated with ethylene dibromide.

The system is pumping 400 gallons of water a minute, or 576,000 gallons a day, and has the capacity to treat 800 gallons a minute. Water enters the plant with an average EDB concentration of 100 parts per trillion, which is twice the allowable limit, and leaves with no detectable EDB. The cleaned water is used to irrigate KAFB’s golf course and to recharge the aquifer.

Photo credit: Dennis Domrzalski

Photo credit: Dennis Domrzalski

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.

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Dennis Domrzalski is managing editor of ABQ Free Press. Reach him at dennis@freeabq.com.