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170 parties agree to pay $10 million for cleanup of Omega Chemical Superfund site

Release Date: 12/20/2005
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(12/20/05)
LOS ANGELES – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a $10 million settlement with 170 parties that are potentially responsible for pollution at the Omega Chemical Superfund site in Whittier, Calif.

The EPA settlement is with a group of de minimis parties, which are parties that individually sent less than 10 tons of waste to the Omega site, a former recycling company that caused extensive soil and groundwater contamination in the area. The settlement is expected to provide funding for future cleanup at the site.

“With this settlement, the EPA will be able to complete the ongoing groundwater investigation and support future site cleanup work at the Omega site,” said Keith Takata, director of the Superfund Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region.

The former Omega Chemical Corporation – located at 12504 and 12512 East Whittier Blvd. – was a refrigerant and solvent recycling facility that operated between 1976 and 1991.

Soil and groundwater at the Omega site are contaminated with high concentrations of tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), chlorinated hydrocarbons and Freon. PCE and TCE are solvents that have been widely used by industry as cleaning and degreasing agents. Freon is used as a refrigerant and pressurizer in spray can products.

In May 1995, the EPA removed more than 3,000 drums of hazardous waste, 60 cubic yards of hardened resin material and hundreds of empty contaminated drums from the Omega site. Because of the release of hazardous substances into the groundwater, the EPA placed the Omega site on the National Priorities List – a list of severely contaminated areas within the United States – in January 1999.

Since 2001, under the terms of a consent decree, a large group of major potentially responsible parties have been conducting investigations to determine how to clean up soil and groundwater at the site. In October, the EPA announced the selection of a cleanup action to contain highly contaminated groundwater in the immediate vicinity of the former Omega facility. While that remedy is being implemented, investigations of soil and the extent of groundwater contamination will continue. Once those investigations are complete, the EPA will propose additional cleanup actions for the site and solicit public comment on the proposed remedies.

For more information on the EPA’s Superfund program, please visit:
http://www.epa.gov/region09/waste/sfund/