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U.S., CALIFORNIA REACH $15 MILLION SETTLEMENT ON CASMALIA

Release Date: 12/28/2001
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, US EPA ,415/947-4307; 202/514-2007, DOJ, www.usdoj.gov

     Agreement Resolves State's Landfill Liability at Central Coast Site

     SAN FRANCISCO   The Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $14.95 million settlement with the state of California resolving the state's liability at the Casmalia Resources Superfund Site near Santa Maria in Central California.  

     Under the proposed settlement, the state will also waive claims against most parties for reimbursement of $1.4 million in past cleanup costs incurred by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.  The state will also waive all past and future cleanup claims against the United States.

     The EPA has identified more than two dozen state entities which sent waste to the site, making them liable for cleanup costs under the Superfund law.  The state sent approximately 220 million pounds of waste to Casmalia during its 16 years of operation.  The state's largest waste contributors were the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board and Caltrans.

     "This settlement is a fair resolution of the state's liability at the site for the cleanup costs," said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cruden.  "It allows the EPA and the state to avoid liability disputes and to coordinate as regulatory agencies to ensure efficient cleanup of the site. We commend the State for coming forward and settling this case which will assist in the cleanup."

     "Our agreement with the state provides much-needed funding to continue cleanup activities at one of the state's most complex hazardous waste sites," said Jane Diamond, the EPA's Pacific Southwest acting director for Superfund. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with the state of California in limiting the impacts this site has on the local ecosystem and surrounding community."  
     
     Today's announcement is part of an ongoing EPA effort to secure funding for the cleanup of the 252-acre landfill, which was designated as a federal Superfund site in September 2001.  A 60-day public comment period on the proposed settlement will begin in the next several weeks.
     
                        Site Background

     The Casmalia Resources Site, located 10 miles from Santa Maria, Calif. was an active hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility from 1973 to 1989.  The site accepted approximately 5.5 billion pounds of waste from about 10,000 contributors, placing it in 92 waste management facilities that included landfills, ponds, shallow wells, and treatment units.
                           
     In 1991, the site owner/operator abandoned active efforts to clean up and close the facility, claiming financial difficulties.  In 1992, the EPA took action to control the site and address immediate health threats. The site, which is contaminated with a variety of metals, pesticides and other toxic materials, continues to undergo investigation and cleanup work by the Casmalia Steering Committee with oversight by the EPA and the state.

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