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EPA seeking property owners to volunteer for Billings superfund site air tests

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Posted at 9:20 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 23:20:32-04

BILLINGS — For almost 30 years, federal and state environmental authorities have been working to clean up a superfund site in midtown Billings on Central Avenue. Now, they're asking homeowners within the three-mile area to sign up for soil and air testing.

The results of the tests will help Environmental Protection Agency staff determine which of the 2700 structures in the 850-acre site need further cleaning up. This go around, they are testing for harmful chemicals in the air and soil.

"What we are trying to figure out is exactly the extent of the situation,"EPA Superfund Remedial Project Manager, Bridget Williams told the Billings City Council on Monday.

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EPA Superfund Remedial Project Manager, Bridget Williams, updates the Billings City Council at its Monday night meeting.

The concern centers around a chemical called PCE that seeped into the ground from a former laundry mat that operated near the 700 block of Central Avenue in the 1960s. Contaminated soil was removed from the site on Central Avenue in 2007.

The chemical has been found in the soil inside the circled area on a map found below.

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This map shows the area of the PCE superfund site in Billings. It encompass about 850 acres.

The PCE chemical travels in shallow ground water and can enter into indoor buildings as vapor from underground, which can cause health problems to residents.

Similar to radon mitigation, PCE can be controlled by installing vapor barriers around the foundations of structures.

Now, the EPA is looking to place air monitoring systems in people's homes, to see how much PCE could be present.

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The metal container is an active monitoring device to test for PCE. The item in the plastic bag is a passive PCE test, which can hang outdoors to collect an air sample for 28 days.

"We're putting passive samplers in house, then we're also drilling into foundations, into the sub slab. Then we will be taking samples from under houses too where appropriate," Williams said.

Williams said the hope is to test 50 structures this spring, and a further 150 structures over the summer. The data will be used to see who qualifies for mitigation that would be paid for by EPA.

To find out if your home or business is in the superfund area, click here to view a map prepared by EPA. You can input your address into the search bar to see if it falls into the superfund site.

To schedule a test you can contact one of the EPA representatives listed below.

  • Roger Hoogerheide - 406-422-9725 or hoogerheide.roger@epa.gov
  • Bridget Williams - 406-457-5013 or williams.bridget@epa.gov

Learn more about past clean up efforts at the Billings superfund site by clicking here to visit the EPA website.

RELATED: EPA makes Billings site a priority on Superfund list