Mountain View Residents Air Concerns About Toxic Groundwater

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A sign is displayed outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A sign is displayed outside of the Google headquarters in Mountain View. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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CBS SF Bay (con't)

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MOUNTAIN VIEW (KCBS) – An estimated 100 residents turned out for a meeting Sunday to learn more about what’s been reported as the surprising spread of toxic TCE in groundwater.

Additional test wells were expected to be used to help authorities track a new plume of the dangerous, cancer-causing solvent believed to be from old semiconductor manufacturing sites.

Within the past few weeks, it was revealed that TCE, or trichloroethylene vapors, were detected at Google’s company’s offices in Mountain View. Google’s buildings QD6, and QD7, sit on North Whisman – on top of what used to be Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, Raytheon, and other computer chip makers.

“We have shallow contaminated groundwater,” Alana Lee, a project manager with the Environmental Protection Agency told an overflow crowd on Sunday. She suggested that plumes running beneath businesses and homes are prone to evaporation.

“A big plume, it’s a mile and a half long, a half mile wide, it’s got hundreds of commercial buildings and we’ve been lucky thus far that only a handful of residences are above the plume,” explained Lenny Siegel with the Center for Public Environmental Oversight.

According to Siegel, the “good” news is that the elevated TCE levels have only been detected in a few homes and select Google buildings, though he worries about some employees who were pregnant and working, even for just a short time, in the area.

“I think that, like most other things, this is just the tip of the iceberg,” theorized Bob Larrieu, who lives near a recently discovered plume and attended the community meeting. “There’s a health issue, there are property value issues.”

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