Chico Toxic Plumes

A water crisis in Chico, California arose in 1984 when a toxic chemical was discovered in Chico's groundwater. The chemical was linked to various dry cleaners in town that had dumped poisonous waste into city sewers. In the following years, a total of eight toxic plumes were discovered beneath Chico's streets, composed of four separate poisonous chemicals and originating from a variety of different sources. Contaminated wells were immediately shut down by the California Water Service and the water in Chico is currently safe to drink as the issue is being resolved. IMAGE

Chico Toxic Plumes

Toxic Plumes

Plume is an underground pattern of contaminant concentrations created by the movement of groundwater beneath a contaminant source, with the contaminants spreading in the direction of groundwater movement. The source site has the highest concentration, and the concentration decreases and dissipates away from the source.

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MAP

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Who It Affects

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Locations

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Chemicals

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TCE - Trichloroethylene

used in: metal degreasers, correction fluid, paint, spot removers, carpet cleaning fluids, metal cleaners varnishes

signs of exposure: nausea, vomitting, liver injury, dizziness, headache, neurological problems, and eye, nose and throat irrtation.

health effects: cancer, kidney damage, Parkinsons disease, heart damage, lung damage, heart defects in offspring

how to help: report contamination to OSHA

PCP - Pentachlorophenol

used in: hydrocarbon insecticide and fungicide to protect timber from rot and insects

health effects: hypotension, myocrdial failure, pulmonary edema, neurological changes, liver and renal toxicity, methemoglobinemia, hemolysis

signs of exposure: elavated temperature, profuse sweating, dehydration, loss of appetite, decreased body weight, nausea, uncoordinated movement

to help: moniter the levels of PCP in your well, get a copy of the yearly water report

PCE - Perchloroethylene

used in: manufactured chlorinated organic compund used in auto repair shops, service stations and dry cleaning

health effects: liver problems and cancer from long–term exposure

how to help: use wet cleaning instead of dry cleaning

more informormation used extensivley from the 1940's through 1980's

1 teaspoon of PCE contaminates 450,000 gallons of water

denser than water, causing it to sink inot low points and ground water

DCE - Dichloroethylene

used in: making plastic products, flame retardent fabrics, coating for steel pipes, adhesive applications

health effects: liver damage, neurotoxicity, nevous system depression

more information found in many foods and packaging materials

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Chico Airport Plume

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This plume originated from Victor Industries Corporation at 681 Liberator Street near the Chico Municipal Airport. The corporation used TCE as a degreaser for their machinery and improper disposal of the chemical led to this plume becoming over a mile long. The city of Chico has been unable to implement a remedial action plan due to an endangered plant species in the area, but they are looking for alternative extraction site.

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North Valley Cleaners Plume

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This plume originated from the North Valley Cleaners in the North Valley Plaza. They discharged toxic cleaning chemicals into their septic system from 1964 to '88, which eventually seeped into the groundwater. Currently, the responsible parties are developing a site-specific risk assessment.

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North Central Plume

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This plume originated from First Avenue Cleaners at 1078 East 1st Avenue, where currently the Spa Broker is located. It is considered a success story, and no pollution has been detected since 2004.

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Central Plume

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This plume is by far the largest and worst of the eight plumes, partially due to multiple points of origin. However, Esplanade Cleaners at 164 East 2nd Avenue and Flair Custom Cleaners at 660 Mangrove Avenue were the main contributors to the high concentration of PCE in the groundwater plume. In 1999, 21 monitoring wells were installed to determine the placement for three new treatment wells, and restoration is underway.

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Southwest Plume

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This mile and a half long plume originated from various unknown dry cleaners. It caused the closure of 14 private wells due to contamination of PCE, but levels of toxicity have been steadily decreasing.

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Louisiana Pacific Plume

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This plume originated from a combination of the Louisiana-Pacific Corp and the Diamond Match Company in the Barber district south of Chico. The plume was resolved by extracting and treating the groundwater and worked so well that it was stopped in 2003 and the site is considered clean.

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Victor/20th Street Plume

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Chemical Type: TCE
Status: The Department of Toxic Substances is working on designing a groundwater extraction and treatment system.
This mile and a half long plume originated from Victor Industries at 395 East 20th Street. In 1958 Victor Industries relocated to this new site from their previous location near the airport. The Department of Toxic Substances Control is working on designing a groundwater extraction and treatment system. The Victor buildings currently stand vacant.
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Skyway Plume

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This toxic plume was discovered in 2003 because of contamination found in several private wells near Hegan Lane. The probable source of the contamination is thought to be the former CE Building Products on Speedway Avenue. The company manufactured metal frame windows and aluminum shower enclosures and used TCE as a degreaser to clean parts. The DTSC has installed 12 monitoring wells and an examination is in process.

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Chico Residents

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There are about 88,000 residents living in Chico that receive 27 million gallons of groundwater per day from a total of 65 wells. The largest of the toxic plumes, the Central Plume, is located just north of downtown and just underneath a densely populated portion of the city.

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What is Being Done

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Currently, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is working to eliminate the plumes and California Water Service is closely monitoring drinking-water wells.

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What You Can Do

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Test well water that is being consumed on a regular basis. Report any suspected contamination to OSHA.