BETTENDORF, Iowa (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency is investigating possible hazardous chemical contamination in the eastern Iowa city of Bettendorf.

The federal agency will test the air, soil and groundwater next week near a site that was used for waste disposal before disposal was subject to government regulation. Samples will be taken from about 40 properties within a two-mile radius of the Bettendorf site, which is 18 acres of undeveloped terrain.

The land was leased from the 1950s into the 1970s for municipal dumping by the city of Riverdale and industrial disposal. An EPA assessment found the landowner also operated an "oil and chip" business that stored waste oil in clay pits, the Quad-City Times reported .

Contamination at the site was first found during an assessment for a 2012 real estate transaction. Soil and groundwater samples revealed a presence of tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a now-banned substance of varying toxicity. More testing also confirmed elevated levels of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

The federal agency is determining if there's contamination outside the site and whether people and the environment are at risk, said Ashley Murdie with the EPA's Region 7 office.

A Kansas City-based firm will conduct sampling for wells, indoor air and soil under buildings. The EPA will analyze the samplings.

Murdie said the agency will then decide what cleanup or removal action is needed, if any.

The EPA will start the process of removal if contamination is determined an immediate threat, said Todd Davis, Iowa site assessment coordinator for Region 7. Removal methods could include soil excavation and on-site treatment such as electrical resistance heating.

If contamination is minimal and non-threatening, Davis said no action will be taken or the case could be referred to the state.


Information from: Quad-City Times,