State testing for toxic materials in Algona groundwater

ALGONA, Wash. -- There are toxic chemicals underground in Algona and Auburn, and the state admits it doesn't know how far groundwater might carry the toxins or even which direction they could go.

State officials have now expanded their investigation on the toxins and are testing new areas in Algona.

People who live in the area say they believe they've had the wool pulled over their eyes because they weren't told about the potential danger that could be lurking under their homes.

On Wednesday, state crews began drilling holes to process water samples in the lab. The drilling is expected to last about a month.

The toxic chemicals found in the water were traced back to Boeing and its use of degreasers more than 30 years ago. Larry Altose with the Department of Ecology said it all happened before there were regulations against it.

"They are toxic materials," Altose said. "Toxic chemicals, and they have moved with the groundwater over time."

Boeing is now responsible for paying for the investigation to see how much contamination there is.

The tracking started more than 10 years ago and, over time, the state has mapped the concentration of chemicals. Now they're looking to see if it has spread south into a residential area.

"It scares me. I have had a lot of medical things go on with me and I just wonder if it doesn't have something to do with that," said Twila Burling of Algona.

Burling said she's lived in Algona for 17 years and her home is just over a mile away from the plant where the toxic solvents were used.

"We do not even mess with the drinking water. We drink bottled water," Burling said.

But Altose said the drinking water in Algona is safe.

"This groundwater contamination does not affect the water that people drink," he said.

That's because it comes from the City of Auburn. Altose also said simply coming in contact with the water isn't dangerous.

"If someone were to step into the water or if a pet or a child were to splash in the ditch, the levels are low enough that that should not be harmful to a person who did that," he said.