Cancer causing chemicals found in SLO wells

December 26, 2015

tap-waterThe San Luis Obispo County Department of Public Health recently found a toxic compound in six of 10 wells tested in the Buckley Road area near the SLO airport. Of those, four wells had levels of Trichloroethene (TCE) above the accepted threshold.

In October, a property owner complained of a chemical smell coming from their well water. County health officials sampled the well and found it was contaminated with TCE, an industrial solvent linked to liver and kidney damage and childhood leukemia.

County health officials responded by testing an additional nine wells in the area of Buckley Road, east of Davenport Creek Road, Evans Road, and Thread Lane in San Luis Obispo. Of those, five tested positive for TCE and three had TCE amounts over the maximum allowed contamination level.

County officials said they have notified the owners of the contaminated wells and sent letters to property owners in those areas.


I’m sure whoever was using TCE as a degreaser was doing so responsibly, and not dumping it on the ground. Yeah, right.

debbie peterson

Buckley Road is also within half a mile of the Chevron Tank Farm site. I could find no evidence of TCE contamination on the Tank Farm site, but there may be a nexus.


Unocal sold the tank farm site to Chevron (probably a wise move) a number of years ago…yes Unocal who had to clean up and restore Avila Beach to the tune of $200,000,000.00…merely a drop in the bucket, considering their profits.

Hopefully chevron wont make the same mistake that PG&E made in Hinkley regrading ground water contamination.


If the wells between the Tank Farm and the wells in the Buckley Road area show no signs of contamination it seems unlikely the tank Farm is the source


I also have a friend who works at a company off Buckley road, they have not been able to drink their well water for at least 7 years so I am unsure why this is a story now, the problem has been going on for years.


kayaknut, I heard someone who lives in the area say there was jet fuel found in the water as well. Maybe they were wrong about the results or maybe both things are at play here.

The “respond” option on this website never works for me.


I’m fairly certain the airport is somehow involved. Maybe inadvertently but involved none the less.


But wasn’t there a city/county vehicle maintenance facility in the area. We already know some city/county employees have a tendency to illegal dumping.


Perhaps the greatest use of TCE has been as a degreaser for metal parts. The demand for TCE as a degreaser began to decline in the 1950s in favor of the less toxic 1,1,1-trichloroethane. However, 1,1,1-trichloroethane production has been phased out in most of the world under the terms of the Montreal Protocol, and as a result trichloroethylene has experienced some resurgence in use as a degreaser.

Given that the chemical has been discovered over a broad area it was likely dumped out many years ago. It could have been used at the airport for aircraft maintenance or by some farm or machine shop. The good news is that there are a couple of different bacteria that can break down TCE and can be used to treat the contaminated water. The usual means of clean-up is to extract the water and then heat it up to evaporate the TCE. It is a slow process but the rest of the ground water basin can be protected.

Good work by the SLO County Health to test the water over a broader area.


guess who owns and manages these wells under the name Fiero Water Company? JOHN WALLACE.


Fiero lane water company is listed under the Calif Regional Water Quality Control Board, Waste discherge ID# 40102300. Currently registered as a 25,000 gallon a day sewage treatment facility serving the Morabito Burke commercial development. Discharge of effluent it thru spray or drip irrigation at the Morabito Burke & Senn Glick developments. Per the RWQCB’s permit to operate, Rob Miller who is a long time Wallace Group employee is the listed agent. Complete details of the permit can be found by googling the Fiero Water Co. Based on previous violations , San Dist etc,etc, and lack of knowledge or ethics in this “discipline” its quite possible Wallace is responsible for the contamination thru lack luster testing, failures of pretreatment inspections and profits. Considering the still ongoing legal matters with Wallace and the Water Board, I suspect this will be investigated thoroughly.


I hope the public health officials are to locate the origin of the contamination. It shouldn’t be too difficult given the large amount of small industry in the area, and hopefully all the businesses have waste m,management plans as well as business response plans on file.


Slo are you going to try to figure out what has caused the wells to become contaminated?


Fiero lane water company puts the chemicals in the water to purify it.


TCE is a degreaser and organic solvent. It was also used as an anesthetic. It is not used to decontaminate/sterilize water.


tap it brewing uses this water to brew its beer.