SOUTH WEBER -- Dr. John Carter, technical adviser to the South Weber Coalition, addressed the city council Tuesday about possible Hill Air Force Base contamination in the city.
Carter, who holds a doctorate in ecology from Utah State University, said the contamination, which likely started during World War II or earlier with the dumping of chemical warfare products, flares, bullets, herbicides and other materials, is being monitored by Hill.
The base is using the Monitored Natural Attenuation Program, Carter said, which means that any ground pollution will be contained by natural sources, such as using water in trenches to dilute chemicals and a clay/slurry wall around part of the base to prevent leakage.
However, Carter said, the slurry walls leak somewhat, reducing effectiveness.
Arsenic contamination caused by previous chemical dumping resulted in the base being deemed a Superfund site. Superfund is an environmental program established to address abandoned hazardous waste sites.
Carter said there is a possibility that South Weber residents could be suffering from chemical effects, such as neurological damage, cancers and skin disorders, among others, through inhaling, absorption, or digestion of chemicals.
Carter brought in charts to show that the contamination could descend because of gravity and then seep into aquifers in the city.
He said both the east and west ends of the city could be affected, and even though the base burns up chemical disposal, "a lot would soak into the ground."
According to Carter, at one time Hill Air Force Base had extraction wells to keep the groundwater table depressed; however, the wells were decommissioned. Today, the base is using trenches with permeable materials that capture as much contaminant as possible. However, he said, "Trenches ... are not 100 percent effective," because of possible gaps in the trench and water moving beneath the trench.
Carter suggested caps over the landfill to prevent rain or snow from going into contaminated areas and draining over the hill.
In addition to chemicals, there are also dangerous gases -- such as benzene -- that can leak, Carter said.
"If my property was (in South Weber), I would be very concerned," he said.
Carter also claimed there had not been a comprehensive study made to determine the contamination level in all parts of the city. Hill studies have been restricted to a limited area, he said.
Carter recommended several steps to help solve the contamination problem:
* To fill gaps in the study on the east end.
* To address the pathways or slope of contamination.
* To have active remediation with wells.
* To address epidemiological concerns -- health, immune system, nervous, cancer, and liver.
Carter also recommended a "remedial investigation" to prevent problems that could come up in the next 10 years.
Brent Poll, a South Weber resident, said the council may know health and welfare are priorities; yet it has not aggressively acted upon those concerns, especially with new subdivisions that are under way. Poll, along with other residents, hired Carter and have advocated for better cleanup of the contamination in the city for the last 20 years.
Councilman Randy Hilton, who had attended a Restoration Advisory Board meeting that included communities around HAFB that are concerned about the pollution -- said the contamination plumes have been getting smaller.
Mayor Jeff Monroe said some of the charts Carter presented date back to 1992 and 1994. Monroe questioned the validity of those charts and said he is going to look into Carter's recommended "next steps."