Brit Liggett

NASA to Spend $96 Million at Kennedy Space Center Cleaning Up the Toxic Fumes It Left Behind

by , 08/01/11

kennedy space center, nasa pollution, space shuttle pollution, space shuttle fumes, space shuttle emissions, nasa pollution, nasa programs, nasa launches, space shuttle launches, space travel emissions, clean space travel, sustainable space travel

NASA reports that the pollution caused by Space Shuttle launches at Kennedy Space Center in Florida will cost the government $96 million and will take 30 years to properly clean up. NASA officially ended the Space Shuttle Program on July 21st as the Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down for the final time at the Kennedy Space Center. It seems that the plumes of smoke resulting from the 135 shuttle launches caused toxic chemicals to seep into the sandy soil around the space center. In addition to the $96 million that will be spent at Kennedy, the Air Force announced they’ll be putting $50 million into cleaning up a similar mess at Cape Canaveral.

kennedy space center, nasa pollution, space shuttle pollution, space shuttle fumes, space shuttle emissions, nasa pollution, nasa programs, nasa launches, space shuttle launches, space travel emissions, clean space travel, sustainable space travel

In the past, back in Apollo, the normal disposal of the solvent cleaning was down the drain … out the back door,” Rosaly Santos-Ebaugh, Kennedy’s remediation program manager and the person responsible for leading the cleanup told USA Today. According to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there are roughly 2 square miles of chemically contaminated soil and groundwater around Kennedy Space Center. The most prevalent contaminant is a chlorinated solvent called trichloroethylene which can cause birth defects and cancer, and is found in the area at levels thousands of times higher than allowed under the Federal Drinking Water Standards.

Recently, NASA scientists discovered the harm the shuttle launches were doing to the surrounding environment and worked to clean up their act, but major pollution from older launches still remains. It is estimated that 88,000 pounds of trichloroethylene soaked directly into the ground from 1959 to 1968. Apparently, during those years, workers simply poured the toxic substance straight into the ground after launches thinking it would evaporate. Since 1989 $128 million has already been spent at Kennedy for environmental cleanups, but it seems there is a lot more to be done.

We can put a man on the moon, but we don’t have all the regulations in place so we can understand the effect of some of the chemicals that were disposed of,” NASA scientist Jackie Quinn told USA Today while explaining the process by which the pollution occurred. We’re with Quinn. With all of the intelligent people working on reaching far into our galaxy, why can’t we push a bit of that thought power into ensuring that getting to those heights wont irreparably harm the home we already have.

Via USA Today

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2 Comments

  1. mrCynic August 3, 2011 at 9:10 am

    Hey nightstalker, don’t be clueless – bottom line is that there’s been extensive environmental damage done at KSC and adjoining CCAFS due to rocket processing and launching during *all* of the programs, and still is. I’ve worked at both places and know environmental engineers who’ve left in disgust at the arrogant “sweeping under the rug” that went on in the name of “progress”. Make no mistake, there’s been significant government-approved environmental damage done here, and on a national wildlife refuge to boot. Just outrageous.

  2. nightstalker August 1, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    I am confused by this article.

    “It is estimated that 88,000 pounds of trichloroethylene soaked directly into the ground from 1959 to 1968. Apparently, during those years, workers simply poured the toxic substance straight into the ground after launches thinking it would evaporate.”

    None of that time frame was during the Shuttle ERA. This report is terrible.

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