EPA Updates Contamination Clean Up Efforts At Meramec Caverns

Freeze 2Chris Whitley, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7, shares the latest updates on the remediation efforts at Meramec Caverns. The popular tourist cave closed in March due to elevated contamination  levels of trichloroethylene (TCE) vapors.

In next week’s Environmental Echo podcast, the topic will be a further discussion of the issues at Meramec Caverns and the surrounding area. See more information below.


According to an EPA LaJolla Spring Cave Complex document – The TCE groundwater contamination likely originates from two sources, the former TRW/Ramsey facility in downtown Sullivan and the Sullivan landfill, which are part of the Oak Grove Village Well Superfund Site located in Sullivan, Mo.

The site was listed on the EPA’s National Priorities List in 2002. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program manages the former TRW/Ramsey facility site.

The TCE groundwater contamination in the area has been under investigation since 1986.

Whitely explained that because of the geology in the area it is difficult to contain or control the contamination from moving within the groundwater to different locations, like Meramec Caverns or possibly even the Meramec River. The Meramec Cavern issues are challenging because there is not much of a “base history” to follow for a vapor intrusion inside a commercial cave. He said the best science and experience is being applied to deal with the situation.

Jo Schaper will be the next podcast guest on Environmental Echo. Don Corrigan will interview Schaper to find out more about the unique geology of the Sullivan area, the history and origins of the TCE contamination, the reasons why the contamination is almost impossible to remediate, and how the groundwater contamination becomes a vapor.

Schaper holds a degree in geology,  often writes on geological topics, and has been caving and exploring the area around Sullivan since 1986. She is also is a former assistant editor of the River Hills Traveler, and along with her writing and geological explorations, is the current communications specialist for Geo Communications Services.

For more information and a list of EPA Superfund Sites in Missouri – CLICK HERE.

All music on Environmental Echo is provided by House of Cowboy.
(Photo of water not from the Sullivan, Mo, area or inside Meramec Caverns.)


One response to “EPA Updates Contamination Clean Up Efforts At Meramec Caverns

  1. Interesting and alarming that TCE is probably finding its way into the Meramec River. That poor river is having a bad 2016, starting with the sewage dumps at the beginning of the year. All this raises the question of whether swimmers or anglers should be concerned with recreational activities in the Meramec. You gotta’ love the Clean Stream Teams that clean up the Meramec regularly, but this stuff is beyond their control.


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