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Solar Panels Power Groundwater Cleanup at Davis, California Superfund site

Release Date: 02/23/2011
Contact Information: Media Contacts: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, Charlotte Fadipe, (916) 956-2838, or Caroline Hogan, (202) 225-3311,

Stimulus funded electrical resistance heating system will speed cleanup by more than 120 years
SACRAMENTO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. Congressman Mike Thompson and Linda Adams, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency today hosted a press conference and media tour to provide details about recent exciting energy conservation and cleanup accomplishments at the Frontier Fertilizer Superfund site in Davis, California. An innovative electrical resistance heating system partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act officially went online today and will reduce the projected timeline to cleanup the site from 150 years to 30 years.

“For the first time ever, solar will provide all of the power for a Superfund groundwater cleanup,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal should be to clean the environment in the greenest way possible—and this new treatment plant sets the benchmark for future actions.”

More than $2.5 million dollars in stimulus funding has gone to recent improvements at the site. By installing the solar panels and starting the new system, the site will lower overall energy costs by $15,000 a year and reduce CO2 emissions by more than 54 metric tons a year. It will also speed the cleanup by an estimated 120 years.

“I am pleased with the impressive progress that has been made in the cleanup of the Frontier Fertilizer Superfund Site,” said Rep. Thompson. “Gains of this magnitude would not have been possible without the innovative use of solar panels to power the cleanup. These are exactly the kinds of smart, targeted investments that will help create jobs, strengthen our economy, and position our community as a leader in the clean energy industry.”

“It’s very rewarding to be able to use the latest green technologies to accelerate the cleanup of toxic sites in communities” said Linda Adams, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal-EPA). “It means that Cal EPA can work more efficiently at
converting contaminated properties into productive sites for the local community. Frontier Fertilizer is a prime example of using green technology to green up neighborhoods.”

Electrical resistive heating is a technology sometimes used to cleanup sites when conventional methods will not work. T
he heating system includes 236 heating electrodes that will heat the soil and groundwater to the boiling point of water. Extraction wells strategically located in and around the heated areas will collect gas and liquids generated by the heating system. Extracted gas and liquids are treated with granular activated carbon. Twenty-seven temperature-monitoring wells will be used to monitor the belowground operation.

EPA first installed limited solar panels at the Frontier site in 2007. The initial system helped to partially offset the electrical power needs for the groundwater treatment system but could not fully power the site. In 2010, $350,000 in Recovery Act Funds were used to expand the solar system, which now provides 100% of the power for the groundwater treatment system.

The new solar panels cover half an acre and have resulted in a ‘green’ method that generates plenty of solar energy and will off-set non-renewable energy use. The expanded solar panel system was installed by a small, local business. To further green the site, the project team is also evaluating options for the reuse of treated groundwater for irrigation of City and Caltrans properties.

The Frontier Fertilizer site was first developed in the 1950’s to store agricultural equipment. Operations in the 1970s and 1980s consisted of storing, mixing and delivering pesticides and herbicides. For years since, toxic chemicals including pesticides and herbicides have been leaking into soil and groundwater, the primary source of drinking water in the area.

Photos from today’s event will be posted online at:

For more on Frontier Fertilizer please visit: