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Cleanup of major drinking water source expected to run over $200 million

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Sixteen firms will pay $14.9 million for cleanup costs at the San Gabriel Valley Area 2 Superfund site, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The EPA’s cleanup calls for removing contaminants from approximately 30 million gallons per day of contaminated groundwater in and near Baldwin Park, California, benefiting some 85,000 households.

The 16 companies involved in today’s settlements will pay $14.5 million to the U.S. and $346,000 to the State of California. The settlements follow an earlier agreement between nine of the 16 companies and seven local water agencies that is helping to guide the cleanup. More than $100 million has been spent in the last three years alone on the construction and operation of four large water treatment systems to clean the groundwater and provide a safe and reliable source of drinking water to area residents and businesses. The groundwater cleanup, one of the largest in the country, has been a cooperative effort involving the EPA, the State of California, and seven local water agencies.

“Today’s settlement is proof that the cooperative actions of federal and state government and the private industry can have a positive impact on our citizens and the environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kelly A. Johnson for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “As a result of the cleanup efforts, hundreds of thousands of residents will be able to take comfort in the knowledge that their drinking water is safe and clean.” The 16 companies are: Aerojet-General Corporation; Allegiance Healthcare Corporation; Azusa Land Reclamation Co. Inc.; Fairchild Holding Corp.; Hartwell Corporation; Huffy Corporation; Leach International Corporation; Lockheed Martin Corporation; Mobil Oil Corporation; Oil & Solvent Process Company; Phaostron Instrument and Electronic Company; Philip Morris USA Inc.; Reichhold Inc.; the Valspar Corporation; White & White Properties; and Winco Enterprises Inc. The settlements also cover several related entities.

“The EPA will continue to oversee cleanup work at this and the other San Gabriel Valley Superfund sites to protect and restore the San Gabriel Basin as a vital source of drinking water for Southern California,” said Keith Takata, director of the EPA’s Superfund Division for the Southwest Region.

The San Gabriel Valley Superfund site settlements are described in seven consent decrees lodged today with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles and one bankruptcy settlement lodged with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Ohio on September 20, 2005. The settlements accomplish three goals: to reimburse state and federal government for their initial efforts to investigate and clean up the contamination; to obtain cash payments from seven of the companies that had not participated in the earlier agreement with the water agencies; and to provide commitments to pay future EPA costs of overseeing the cleanup.

Lockheed Martin Corporation, Mobil Oil Corporation, the Valspar Corporation, and Phaostron Instrument and Electronic Company will pay additional amounts for their failure to perform work required by a June 2000 EPA order. The additional amounts make up $1.5 million of the $14.5 million to be paid to the federal government.

The Baldwin Park area and three adjoining areas of groundwater contamination were declared Superfund sites in 1984. The Baldwin Park area cleanup addresses an area of groundwater contamination more than eight miles long and 1,000 feet deep.

Beginning in the 1940’s, companies started using various chemicals at the site, substances that have now contaminated the area’s groundwater. Contaminants include trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE), volatile organic compounds that can affect breathing and nervous systems, and perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that may affect the thyroid.

Copies of the consent decrees and bankruptcy settlement are available at . For more information on the EPA’s Superfund program, please visit