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U.S. EPA & REGIONAL BOARD CLEAR COMPANIES FROM CLEANUP

Release Date: 3/17/1995
Contact Information: Karen Caesar, RWQCB, (213) 266-7569 Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587 Roderic Young, Press Secretary, Congressman Esteban E. Torres (202) 225-5256

RELEASED JOINTLY BY U.S. EPA, RWQCB, AND CONGRESSMAN ESTEBAN E.
TORRES


     (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board today
joined Congressman Esteban E. Torres in announcing that the
agencies will send out letters to more than 1500 businesses who
have not caused and therefore will not be asked to contribute to
the cleanup of groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel
Basin.


       The letter-signing ceremony was held at the Regional
Board's office, 101 Centre Plaza Drive, Monterey Park.


     "We believe that environmental protection and sensitivity to
local businesses can and must go hand-in-hand in the San Gabriel
Valley," said Felicia Marcus, U.S. EPA's Regional Administrator.
"We all want solutions that make both economic and environmental
sense.  To do that, we focused attention on narrowing the number
of businesses we believe are responsible for the contamination.
We will ask only those companies to pay for the groundwater
cleanup and will let the rest go.  Historically, we've cast the
net as wide as possible and left it there, often for years, even
for businesses who are extremely unlikely to have contributed to
the problem.  Today, we are letting them get back to business,
while we will focus our effort on getting the cleanup done and
seeking recovery from more likely contributors."
   
    The release of the notification letters is part of a
strategy developed by a coalition of businesses and government
agencies for a faster, cheaper and more targeted cleanup in the
San Gabriel Valley.


     "I am convinced this cooperative effort between the private
sector and the government will serve as a national model," said
Congressman Esteban E. Torres.  "For the past ten years, I have
championed this innovative approach to environmental cleanup.
Today, we are ending the chapter in a tale of red tape and
litigation and beginning a new one of economic revitalization.
The long overdue cleanup of the San Gabriel Valley Basin's
groundwater is finally moving full-speed ahead--and that's great
news for the whole region."


     "This joint action will now allow 1575 small and large firms
and individual property owners in the San Gabriel Valley to
secure loans to finance their businesses and properties," said
Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Chair Michael
Keston.  "For years, there has been a cloud of uncertainty
hanging over the property owners and businesses of the San
Gabriel Valley.  With this letter, we are freeing these local
individuals and businesses from the possibility of having to pay
a multi-million dollar cleanup bill.  They can now forge ahead
with their plans for the future.  This is a perfect example of
how government agencies can effectively work together to help the
public in a very meaningful way."


     U.S. EPA also is working with cities in the San Gabriel
Valley to provide tools for redeveloping industrial contaminated
areas without the risk of Superfund liability.  In October 1994,
U.S. EPA reached two tentative agreements with prospective
business purchasers which would allow new economic development
while the cleanup continues in the San Gabriel Valley.  The
Agency also has begun discussions with the city of Industry in
Puente Valley to investigate re-use options.


     U.S. EPA has taken several actions to protect the valley
since it was placed on the National Priorities List for Superfund
cleanup in 1984.  In the past 18 months, U.S. EPA has reached
agreements with more than 70 companies to contribute to the
cleanup.  In the Baldwin Park area, 16 companies have agreed to
work that will lead to the design and construction of the largest
treatment system in the history of Superfund.  Businesses
responsible for the contamination in the cities of Industry, La
Puente and El Monte have agreed to complete investigations and
come up with cleanup options for those areas.
   
    The San Gabriel Valley Area Superfund site is located in
suburban Los Angeles County.  Significant portions of the cities
of La Puente, Industry, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Irwindale, El Monte,
South El Monte, Rosemead, and Alhambra are included.  The San
Gabriel Valley Area Superfund site was placed on the National
Priorities List (NPL) in 1984 because the groundwater is
contaminated by volatile organic compounds.  The NPL is the U.S.

EPA's list of hazardous waste sites potentially posing the
greatest long-term threat to public health and the environment.


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