EPA Finalizes $8.25 Million Settlement For Cleanup Costs At California Site

Under the terms of a consent decree, EPA will receive more than $8.25 million from eleven companies who allegedly contributed to groundwater contamination at the Puente Valley Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund site in Los Angeles County, Calif., the agency announced on Sept. 20.

The U.S. vs. Acorn Engineering Co., et al. consent decree was entered by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Sept. 8. The money can be used to fund EPA's groundwater cleanup costs. The agency's site cleanup plan calls for pumping and removing contaminants from a major drinking water source.

"The entry of the consent decree gives us funds that EPA can use for future cleanups in San Gabriel Valley," said Keith Takata, director of the EPA's Pacific Southwest Superfund Office. "EPA is committed to ensuring that parties responsible for contamination pay to address it."

The consent decree was the first settlement reached at this site. Under its terms, the defendants agreed to reimburse a portion of the EPA's response costs, which the EPA can use to fund future cleanups. These settling parties were or are owners or operators of sources of releases of hazardous substances at the site. The agency is currently negotiating other agreements to clean up the groundwater.

The groundwater cleanup plan calls for installing a network of wells and treatment systems. The systems currently are being designed to prevent contaminated groundwater from migrating further. The agency estimates that approximately 3,420,000 gallons per day will be treated by the system. Treated water may be provided to a local water supply distribution system or discharged to surface water.

The consent decree was entered as final judgment against the following settling defendants: Acorn Engineering Co; Aerosol Services Co., Inc.; Walter K. Lim, Sylvia Lim and Nancy Lim; GOE Engineering Co.; Hexcel Corp.; Lansco Die Casting Inc.; C. Roy Herring/Miriam Herring Trust; Herring Investments, LLC; Somitex Prints of California Inc.; Union Pacific Railroad Co; and Utility Trailer Manufacturing Co.

The Puente Valley Operable Unit of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund site, Area 4, is an area of contaminated groundwater generally located beneath the city of Industry and portions of the cities of La Puente and Walnut. The area was placed on the National Priorities List because the groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that were formerly used for degreasing, metal cleaning and other purposes.

The contaminated groundwater associated with all of the San Gabriel Valley sites lies under significant portions of Alhambra, Irwindale, La Puente, Rosemead, Azusa, Baldwin Park, city of Industry, El Monte, South El Monte, West Covina, and other areas of the San Gabriel Valley. There are 45 water suppliers in the Valley that use the San Gabriel Basin groundwater aquifer to provide 90 percent of the drinking water for more than 1 million people.

Additional information about the San Gabriel Valley Superfund site and other sites in EPA Region 9 can be accessed at http://www.epa.gov/region09/waste/sfund/index.html.

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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