KODIAK - A cleanup of a site on Kodiak Island used as a dumping ground during World War II has been completed.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Thursday that the five-year clean up of Drury Gulch, a site near the Coast Guard Base, is done. The site contained polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCBs, and was used as a dumping ground during the war.
Project manager Charley Peyton said most of the PCBs came from buried electrical equipment.
"The containers themselves were broken open or literally dumped out in the ground," Peyton said. "Unfortunately, it was a common disposal practice back then."
Some wrecked aircraft engines also contributed a smaller quantity of PCBs.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, PCBs are a group of chemicals containing 209 individual compounds. They were widely used in electronics as insulation until the 1970s, when they were banned in the U.S. after studies found them to be harmful.
The EPA classifies PCBs as a persistent organic pollutant and a probable human carcinogen. They also are linked to other health problems, including low birth weight, thyroid disease and cognitive disorders.
Peyton said locating the PCB-tainted soil was a challenge because there was more debris than initially expected and it was widely scattered.
"From the surface, it didn't look that bad," Peyton said. "It wasn't until we excavated that we realized how extensive (the dumping) had been and how much debris there was. The hardest part was locating all the PCBs without literally digging the entire gulch up."
Peyton said tens of thousands of soil samples had to be collected and tested.
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