Settlement Calls For Companies To Pay More Than $8 Million For Arizona Site

Unidynamics/Phoenix Inc. and its parent company, Crane Co., will be required to pay more than $8 million and clean up the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport North Superfund site in Arizona, EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced.

Under the settlement announced on April 12, companies are required to continue current cleanup at the site, conduct supplemental site investigation and future cleanup, pay $6.7 million in past costs and all future oversight costs, and pay $500,000 in penalties.

The settlement also requires the companies to spend $1 million on an environmental project that includes the inventorying and assessment of up to 25 possible brownfields sites in the city of Goodyear, complete four more extensive site assessments, and conduct cleanups at three of those sites. Goodyear is the community most impacted by the site contamination.

"We are ensuring prompt cleanup of the site's soil and groundwater contamination that continues to threaten valuable drinking water resources," said Wayne Nastri, EPA's regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "We are conserving the Superfund by ensuring that those who contributed to the contamination pay for the cleanup. We are also pleased that part of the settlement will go toward assessing and potentially redeveloping abandoned properties in Goodyear."

"Holding companies responsible for clean-up of sites they contaminate is a positive step to ensure our air and water is clean in Arizona," stated Paul K. Charlton, U.S. attorney for the District of Arizona.

The penalties are a result of the companies' failure to comply with two EPA orders, issued in 1990 and 2003, requiring site cleanup. The companies continued some cleanup activities required in the orders, but violated the orders when they failed to conduct certain portions of the cleanup -- forcing EPA to expend funds and conduct the work in their place, officials said. In July 2004, the federal government filed a complaint on behalf of EPA against Crane Co. and Unidynamics/Phoenix Inc. seeking penalties for violating EPA orders, past costs, and an injunction to compel the companies to fully conduct the site cleanup into the future.

The settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona, will be made available for a 30-day public comment period.

PGA-North is part of the larger Phoenix-Goodyear Airport Area Superfund site. The site was listed on the federal Superfund list in 1983 after the Arizona Department of Health Services discovered hazardous substances -- including (TCE) and other volatile organic compounds -- in local water supply wells. The site is comprised of a northern and southern area -- Unidynamics/Phoenix, Inc. and Crane Co. are the potentially responsible parties for the northern portion only. In the late 1990s, perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, was found in area wells, and was added as a contaminant of concern for the PGA-North site.

From 1963 through 1994, the Unidynamics/Phoenix, Inc. facility, located near the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport, manufactured defense and aerospace component systems, including pyrotechnics and explosives, causing hazardous substance releases. Following investigation in the late 1980s, the EPA in 1989 selected the remedy to clean up soil and ground water contamination. Cleanup has been underway at the site for over a decade, and the EPA is now working to confirm the full extent of contamination and adapt the cleanup to address it.

This article originally appeared in the 04/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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