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Developments in Brief : Bacteria Invited to Dine at the Toxic Well

April 27, 1986

Scientists plan this summer to try using bacteria to clean up toxic chemicals in water. If the experiment works, it may have enormous implications because countless drinking-water wells throughout the state are contaminated by such chemicals.

In recent years, scientists have been trying to grow a breed of bacteria that can eat and neutralize the solvent trichloroethylene (TCE), a contaminant at many polluted ground-water sites.

Researchers have drilled wells 20 feet deep in the southwestern corner of Moffett Field Naval Air Station in Northern California, where the shallow ground water is contaminated by traces of solvents and other chemicals. The bacteria will be injected directly into the ground water.

The scientists had planned to test the process last winter, but heavy rains forced a postponement.

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