$50 Million Settlement to Address Contamination at Superfund Site

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Posted: Saturday, December 8, 2012 9:49 pm | Updated: 9:55 pm, Sat Dec 8, 2012.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The United States has entered into two settlements worth more than $50 million to clean up contamination from the B.F. Goodrich Superfund Site in San Bernardino County. There are a dozen settling parties including Emhart Industries, and Pyro Spectaculars, Inc., as well as the cities of Rialto and Colton and county of San Bernardino, Calif.

The Superfund site has been used to store, test and manufacture fireworks, munitions, rocket motors, and pyrotechnics and was added to the EPA’s National Priorities List in September 2009. The area’s groundwater is contaminated with trichloroethylene and perchlorate, which have resulted in the closure of public drinking water supply wells in the communities of Rialto and Colton.

“After decades of harmful groundwater contamination and following protracted and costly litigation, the parties responsible for releases of TCE and perchlorate at the BF Goodrich Superfund Site have agreed to a comprehensive long-term plan to cleanup the contaminated groundwater at the Site,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The commitment made under the consent decrees announced today will provide immeasurable benefits to the environment and the communities who live in Rialto and Colton, Calif.”

“For decades, the defendants have been polluting this critical source of drinking water with both perchlorate and industrial solvents,” said Jared Blumenfeld, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Today's historic settlement ensures that the impacted communities in Southern California will finally have their drinking water sources restored.”

Under one agreement, Emhart will perform the first portion of the cleanup, which is estimated to cost $43 million over the next 30 years to design, build, and operate groundwater wells, treatment systems, and other equipment needed to clean up the contaminated groundwater at the site. A significant portion of these funds will come from other settling parties, including the U.S. Department of Defense. The cities of Rialto and Colton will receive $8 million.

EPA used government funds to pay for investigation and cleanup work at the site while investigating potentially responsible parties for their role in the contamination. The United States, on behalf of EPA, sued Emhart and PSI, as well as the Goodrich Corporation, the estate of Harry Hescox and its representative, Wong Chung Ming, Ken Thompson, Inc., and Rialto Concrete Products, in 2010 and 2011 to require cleanup and recover federal money spent at the site. Prior to EPA’s lawsuit, the cities of Rialto and Colton initiated litigation against many of the settling parties, including the Department of Defense, in 2004.

A company acquired by Emhart manufactured flares and other pyrotechnics at the site for the military in the 1950s. PSI has operated at the site since 1979, designing fireworks shows produced throughout the United States.

TCE is an industrial cleaning solvent. Drinking or breathing high levels may cause damage to the nervous system, liver and lungs. Perchlorate is an ingredient in many flares and fireworks, and in rocket propellant, and may disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.

SOURCE: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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