News Speed reads

A big spill at Kelly

More than 45,000 gallons of chlorinated solvents were spilled at the former Kelly Air Force Base last month, contaminating areas outside and inside the groundwater treatment plant.

According to an Air Force document presented at a Kelly Air Force Base Restoration meeting, at 11 p.m. on October 5, an ultraviolet oxidation recovery machine, which is used to treat contaminated groundwater, shut down because of low water flow. However, because of a computer error, groundwater from recovery wells continued to arrive at the Zone 4 treatment plant, overflowing a holding tank.

By 7:30 the next morning, when a contractor noticed the spill, more than 36,000 gallons of groundwater contaminated with PCE, TCE, and DCE had been released outside the building; about 9,000 gallons were inside the building. Short-term exposure to the chemicals can cause drowsiness, skin irritation, and headaches; persons exposed to high levels can faint. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage and cancer.

Air Force officials immediately shut down the system and began removing water in the building, disposing it at a nearby plant on base. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality was also notified.

Lisa Sorg

Brechtel going mobile

Former City Manager Terry Brechtel has landed on her feet after her unceremonious resignation last year: She has been named executive director of the Alamo Regional Mobility Authority.

While the City Manager post had its share of controversy, Brechtel’s new job is not stress-free. She is charged with negotiating and financing the contentious toll system for Bexar County roads.

To address an identified $8 billion shortfall in highway funding for Bexar County, the local Metropolitan Planning Organization has included toll lanes as part of the county’s 25-year transportation plan. Toll road opponents argue the roads have already been paid for by tax dollars and drivers shouldn’t have to ante up again to drive on them.

Nicole Chavez