Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Rockets, Fireworks, and Flares
EPA #: CAN000905945
County: San Bernardino
City: Rialto, CA
Congressional District: 43
Other Names: Rialto-Colton
In July 2014, EPA completed a Superfund "Job Training Initiative" to to prepare Rialto area residents for environmental cleanup jobs.
Construction of the 1st of 2 planned groundwater cleanup projects is scheduled to begin in Sept. 2014.
Santa Ana Water Board: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/santaana/
State Water Resources Control Board: http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/public_notices/petitions/water_quality/a1824rialto.shtml
On this page
Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 09/03/08
Final Date: 09/23/09
The "Rockets, Fireworks, and Flares" (RFF) Site includes a 160-Acre Area in Rialto, California where volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and perchlorate have contaminated soil and groundwater. The Site, formerly known as the B.F. Goodrich Site, also includes areas of groundwater contamination downgradient of the 160-Acre Area. The 160-Acre Area is bounded by West Casa Grande Drive on the north, Locust Avenue on the east, Alder Avenue on the west, and an extension of Summit Avenue on the south.
The Site is located in the Rialto-Colton Groundwater Basin in western San Bernardino County, California. The Basin is an important source of drinking water to residents and businesses in the cities of Rialto, Colton, and Fontana.
The 160-Acre Area was part of a larger area acquired by the United States Army in 1942 to develop an inspection, consolidation, and storage facility for rail cars transporting ordnance to the Port of Los Angeles. Since the United States sold the Rialto property in 1946, a portion of the property has been used by defense contractors, fireworks manufacturers, and other businesses that used perchlorate salts and/or solvents in their manufacturing processes or products. In 1956 and 1957, West Coast Loading Corporation manufactured and tested two products, photoflash flares and "ground-burst simulators," containing potassium perchlorate. From about 1957 to 1962, B.F. Goodrich Corporation conducted research, development, testing, and production of solid-fuel rocket propellant containing ammonium perchlorate, and used solvents in the manufacturing process. Since the 1960s, the 160-Acre Area has been used by a number of companies that manufactured or sold pyrotechnics, including Pyrotronics, Pyro Spectaculars, and American Promotional Events.
Who is Involved
In 2002, the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board (Water Board) began actively working with Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) and property owners to investigate soil and groundwater contamination at the Site and in surrounding areas. EPA began assisting the Water Board in 2002, providing technical, enforcement, and financial assistance.
In 2008, after the Water Board's efforts were stalled by legal challenges, EPA increased its efforts at the Site (as described below). In September 2009, EPA added the Site to the Superfund National Priorities List.
As summarized below, between 2003 and 2013, numerous investigations have been conducted to determine the extent of soil and groundwater contamination at the Site. The studies have included the collection and analysis of soil and soil gas samples, and the installation of more than 30 groundwater monitoring wells. The studies were overseen by the Water Board, EPA, and the California Department of Toxic Substances. See the Santa Ana Water Board's website for more information on studies overseen by the Water Board.
Investigations carried out by EPA between 2008 and 2012 included the installation of a network of eight 900-foot deep groundwater monitoring wells (see Well Location Map in the "Technical Documents" section below), annual testing of existing groundwater wells, and soil and soil gas testing at a disposal pit used by the B.F. Goodrich Corporation in the late 1950s and early 1960s. EPA has directed and overseen testing soil testing completed by Emhart Industries in accordance with a March 2009 agreement with EPA, and groundwater testing completed by Emhart and Goodrich in 2013 and 2014 in accordance with settlement agreements finalized in 2013.
Data from these investigation efforts have been used to develop an initial groundwater cleanup plan and are being used to develop a comprehensive remedy for the Site.
|Summary of Testing - Rockets, Fireworks, and Flares Site|
Sample Collection Date(s)
Summary of Testing (Consultant listed in parentheses)
|Mar 2003||Apr 11, 2003||Analysis of approximately 30 soil samples to a max. depth of 8' below ground surface (bgs) in areas used by American Promotional Events - West, Inc. (APE). All samples analyzed for perchlorate; two samples analyzed for VOCs (PES (Environmental, Inc.)|
|Nov 2003||Dec 15, 2003||Analysis of approximately nine soil samples from three trenches to a max. depth of 10' bgs, and six soil samples from a boring to a max. depth of 50' bgs, in areas used by Pyro Spectaculars. All samples analyzed for perchlorate and VOCs (Kleinfelder, Inc.)|
|Dec 2003||Jan 6, 2004||Analysis of approximately eight soil samples to a max. depth of 8' bgs in an area used by APE, to further evaluate contaminated soil detected in Mar 2003 investigation (PES Environmental, Inc.)|
|Mar 2004||Apr 20, 2004||Analysis of approximately 46 soil samples from 11 locations, to a max depth of 15' bgs, in areas owned by Wong Chung Ming. All samples analyzed for perchlorate and 22 samples analyzed for VOCs (Locus Technologies)|
|May - Aug 2004||Mar 24, 2005*||Analysis of approximately 12 soil samples at eight locations, and 101 soil gas samples at 61 locations, to a max. depth of 12' bgs in areas associated with former B.F. Goodrich operations. All soil and groundwater samples analyzed for perchlorate, VOCs, metals, NDMA, 1,4-dioxane, RDX, and selected anions.|
Installation and sampling of 18 temporary wells, installation and initial sampling of four permanent groundwater monitoring wells (PW1-PW4), and installation of 3 piezometers (PW2A - PW4A) (GeoSyntec Consultants)
|Sept 2004||Feb 10, 2005||Analysis of approximately 23 soil samples from 12 locations, and 96 soil gas samples from 47 locations, to a max. depth of 12' bgs in areas associated with West Coast Loading Corp. Soil samples analyzed for perchlorate, VOCs, metals, NDMA, 1,4-dioxane, RDX, and other anions (Environ International Corp.)|
|Dec 2004 - |
|Apr 15, 2005||Analysis of approximately five samples from trenches to a max. depth of 5' bgs and six samples from two borings through the bottom of the former "McLaughlin Pit" to a max. depth of 20' bgs. All soil samples analyzed for perchlorate. One composited sample analyzed for VOCs (Kleinfelder, Inc.)|
|May 2005||Jan 27, 2006||Analysis of approximately 51 soil samples from 22 locations at depths of 5' or 10' bgs for perchlorate in the area where a buried pyrotechnic round was discovered in September 2003. Most samples also analyzed for VOCs, SVOCs, metals, PCBs, and explosives. Analysis of approximately 40 soil gas samples (Blasland, Bouck & Lee, Inc)|
|Mar 2006 - |
|Sept 2008*||Analysis of approximately 355 soil samples and 124 soil gas samples, in 28 study areas that may have been associated with West Coast Loading Corp activities, and additional areas associated with other operations on the 160 Acre Area. Soil samples were collected to a max. depth of 25' bgs, except in Study Areas 18, 28, 41 and 46, where deeper sampling occurred.
Installation and initial sampling of three groundwater monitoring wells by Pyro Spectaculars (CMW-01, CMW-02, CMW-03), and two wells by Emhart Industries (CMW-04 and CMW-05) (Environ International Corp. and Adverus)
|Apr 2006||June 23, 2006||Analysis of approximately 23 soil samples, in the area where a buried pyrotechnic round was discovered, to a max. depth of 8' bgs, and approximately eight samples from stockpiled or excavated soils. Some samples also analyzed for metals (Kleinfelder, Inc.)|
|Apr - July 2006||Oct 21, 2006*||Installation and initial sampling of five groundwater monitoring wells downgradient of the 160 acre area (PW5 through PW9) (GeoSyntec Consultants)|
|Apr - June 2007||July 27, 2007||Analysis of approximately 41 soil samples from approximately 14 locations at depths to 52' bgs for perchlorate in the area where a buried pyrotechnic round was discovered. Some samples also analyzed for metals (Kleinfelder, Inc.)|
|May 2008||Sept 4, 2008||Analysis of approximately nine soil samples from three borings at depths to 16.5' bgs for perchlorate, and approximately 20 soil samples from one deep boring at depths to 200' bgs for perchlorate (Kleinfelder, Inc.)|
|Jan 2008||Mar 5, 2008*|
|EPA sampling of approximately 14 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (CH2M Hill)|
|Feb – Mar 2008||Apr 22, 2008*||Installation and initial sampling of two groundwater monitoring wells by the City of Colton wells (CPW-16 and CPW-17) (DPRA)|
|Mar 2009||May 20, 2009*|
|EPA sampling of approximately 14 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (CH2M Hill)|
|April-May 2009||Feb 2010*||Analysis of approximately 127 soil samples in five study areas associated with West Coast Loading Corp activities (Environ International)|
|Apr-Sept 2009||Nov 2010*||EPA analysis of soil and soil gas samples from two 100-foot deep borings installed in the footprint of the former B.F. Goodrich disposal pit, and from a third 100-foot boring from the former pit (CH2M Hill)|
|Apr 2009 through Dec 2009||Aug 2010*||EPA installation and initial sampling of six 900-foot multi-level groundwater monitoring wells (EPA-MP1 through EPA- MP6) (CH2M Hill)|
|Mar-Apr 2010||Jun 4, 2010*|
|EPA sampling of approximately 25 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (CH2M Hill)|
|June-July 2011||Dec 14, 2012 (report corrected Feb 27, 2013*)||EPA sampling of approximately 22 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (ITSI)|
|Aug 2011 through Jan 2012||Dec 14, 2012 (report corrected Feb 27, 2013*)||EPA installation and sampling of two 700-foot multi-level groundwater monitoring wells (EPA-MP7 and EPA- MP8). (ITSI)|
|Feb 2012||Apr 17, 2012*||EPA-funded flow profiling and depth-specific sampling of the Rialto-02 water supply well (USGS)|
|Apr 2012||Dec 14, 2012 (corrected report dated Feb 27, 2013*)||EPA sampling of approximately 22 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (ITSI)|
|June - July 2012||Dec 14, 2012 (corrected report dated Feb 27, 2013*)||EPA installation and sampling of two nested groundwater monitoring wells (EPA-MW 9a/b) (ITSI)|
|Spring 2013||Sept 2013*||Emhart Industries sampling of approximately 10 existing groundwater monitoring wells (ERM)|
|June - Oct 2013||December 10, 2013*||Goodrich Corp installation and sampling of three multi-level groundwater monitoring wells (PW-10, PW-11, PW-12) and sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells (EnSafe)|
|Dec 2013 - May 2014||July 2014*||Emhart Corp installation and sampling of four groundwater monitoring wells (EMW-01, EMW-03, EMW-04, EMW-05) (ERM)|
In November 2012, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) completed a report summarizing its investigation of the public health implications of exposure to contamination from the B.F. Goodrich Site. Key findings were that:
- People who currently work in businesses located on the B.F. Goodrich site are not at risk from exposure to chemicals in the soil, soil vapor, or groundwater.
- The drinking water currently supplied by the West Valley Water District, the City of Rialto, the City of Colton, and the Terrace Water Company is safe to drink and does not put people at risk for health problems.
- Drinking water supplied to some West Valley Water District customers between 1981 and 1988 may have contained TCE and/or perchlorate. It could not be determined if the levels were harmful to health.
- Drinking water supplied to some of the City of Rialto’s customers from 1979 to 1997 may have had levels of perchlorate high enough to modestly impair iodine absorption by the thyroid gland. It could not be determined if the levels were high enough to affect thyroid hormones.
In 2010, EPA completed a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) for the "Source Area Operable Unit." In the RI/FS, EPA evaluated options for an initial groundwater cleanup project at the Site. In early 2010, EPA released a proposed groundwater cleanup plan, RI/FS Report, and Administrative Record, explained its proposal at a public meeting in Rialto, CA, and accepted comments on its proposal. After carefully considering the comments, EPA adopted a cleanup plan (a "Record of Decision") on September 30, 2010. The Record of Decision describes the selected remedy, explains the basis for EPA's decision to select the remedy, and responds to comments on EPA's proposed cleanup plan.
EPA’s selected remedy is a groundwater pump and treat system intended to intercept and remove contaminated groundwater spreading from the 160-acre source area. The 160-acre source area is where most or all of the contaminants entered the groundwater and testing has identified the highest levels of groundwater contamination.
The remedy will include the construction and operation of two groundwater extraction wells; liquid-phase granular activated carbon (LGAC) to remove trichloroethene (TCE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the extracted groundwater; ion exchange to remove perchlorate from the extracted groundwater; pipelines and pumps to convey the treated water from the treatment plant to one or more local water utilities for distribution to the utility’s customers as drinking water supply; and a groundwater monitoring program. The estimated cost of the remedy is $13 million for design and construction, and over $1 million for annual operation and maintenance. See the Record of Decision for additional details. Design work on the project was completed in 2014, described below
The RI/FS Report, proposed cleanup plan, Record of Decision, and Administrative Record Index are available in the "Documents and Reports" section below. To obtain documents listed in the Administrative Record Index, contact the EPA Superfund Records Center at (415) 820-4700.
It is expected that a second groundwater cleanup remedy will be needed to address contaminated groundwater in the "mid-basin" area, which has been affected by contamination that has moved past (i.e., downgradient of) the Source Area remedy. A cleanup proposal for the mid-basin area is expected in 2015 or 2016. At the same time, EPA will make a decision about the need for cleanup of contaminated soils on the 160-acre area, as described below.
In 2013, EPA reached an agreement with Emhart Industries to design, construct, and operate EPA's September 2010 "Source Area Operable Unit" groundwater remedy, using Emhart's funds and funds from other settling parties, including the Department of Defense. See the "Potentially Responsible Party" section below for more information.
Design work on the remedy was completed in 2013 and 2014. As a first step in the design, Emhart's consultants developed a numerical groundwater flow model of the Rialto-Colton groundwater basin. In June 2013, EPA used the results of modeling simulation, and other information, to select groundwater extraction rates and locations for the design of the Source Area remedy. Design specifications and drawings were prepared in late 2013 and 2014, and approved by EPA in May 2014. Construction of a new groundwater extraction well, new water treatment systems, and pipelines is expected to begin in late 2014. As part of the design process, Emhart installed four additional groundwater monitoring wells in late 2013 and early 2014, and will be installing three additional wells in late 2014 or 2015. A summary of initial results for the first four wells is available in the Technical Documents section below
EPA expects to make a decision about the need for soil cleanup and a second groundwater cleanup remedy in 2015. To provide information needed to support that decision, EPA completed testing between 2008 and 2012 and has entered into an agreement with the Goodrich Corporation to complete additional testing and engineering evaluations as part of a second RI/FS for the site. Three multi-level groundwater monitoring wells were installed and tested in 2013, with two more wells in construction. Existing groundwater wells are generally tested annually - the next tests are scheduled for August 2014. A summary of 2013 testing results is available in the Technical Documents section below. This work is in areas known as the "Mid-basin Operable Unit" and "Soils Operable Unit."
Potentially Responsible Parties
Potentially responsible parties (PRPs) refers to companies that are potentially responsible for generating, transporting, or disposing of the hazardous waste found at the site.
EPA has identified the following parties as PRPs at the site:
- Goodrich Corporation
- Emhart Industries (on behalf of West Coast Loading Corporation)
- Pyro Spectaculars Inc. (PSI)
- Ken Thompson Inc. (current property owner)
- Chung Ming Wong (current property owner)
- Pyrotronics, Inc. (“Pyrotronics”) and Harry Hescox
In February 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a complaint on EPA’s behalf pursuant to CERCLA and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) seeking reimbursement of costs and performance of response actions by the PRPs. In February 2011, EPA issued "Special Notice" letters to PRPs at the site inviting the PRPs to participate in formal negotiations with EPA in an effort to reach a settlement to conduct or finance the cleanup identified in its September 2010 Record of Decision. When the special notice moratorium expired in May 2011, EPA had not received a "Good Faith Offer" to its Special Notice letters.
In 2012, EPA reached settlements with PSI, Emhart Industries, and other entities involved in litigation at the site. In 2013, EPA reached settlements with Goodrich and Ken Thompson Inc.
The settlement with PSI was lodged with the Court on October 10, 2012, open for public comment until November 26, 2012, and approved by the Court in March 2013. The settlement requires payment of $4.3 million to help fund the cleanup and partially reimburse EPA for money spent on investigation work at the Site. The PSI settlement includes the following entities: PSI; Astro Pyrotechnics (a defunct subsidiary of PSI); Trojan Fireworks; Thomas O. Peters and related trusts; and Stonehurst Site, LLC. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent decree.
The settlement with Emhart Industries was available for public comment until January 31, 2013 and approved by the Court in July 2013. The Emhart settlement requires Emhart, the U.S. Dept. of Defense, and other settling parties to fund the design, construction, and operation of the groundwater wells, water treatment systems, and other equipment called for in EPA's 2010 cleanup plan for the Source Area Operable Unit. The cleanup work is estimated to cost $43 million over the next 30 years. The Emhart settlement includes the following entities: Emhart Industries, Inc., Black & Decker Inc, American Promotional Events, Inc., the Department of Defense, the Ensign-Bickford Company, Raytheon, Whittaker Corporation, Broco, Inc., and J. S. Brower & Associates, Inc. and related companies. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent decree.
The settlement with Goodrich Corporation includes two agreements. The first agreement requires Goodrich, under an administrative consent order with EPA, to install additional groundwater monitoring wells and complete testing and engineering analyses as part of EPA's RI/FS process for the Mid-Basin and Soils Operable Units. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent order. EPA will use the results of the RI/FS to develop a cleanup plan for these areas. The second agreement is a judicial consent decree, which requires Goodrich, under EPA’s oversight, to design, build, and operate any cleanup facilities selected by the agency in the cleanup plan for the Mid-Basin and Soils Operable Units. The Consent Decree was available for public comment until May 1, 2013 and approved by the Court in July 2013. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent decree.
The Consent Decree with Ken Thompson Inc. was also available for public comment until May 1, 2013 and approved by the Court in July 2013. The settlement requires payment of $2.8 million to help fund the cleanup and partially reimburse EPA for money spent on investigation work at the Site. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent decree.
The Consent Decree with the estate of Harry Hescox, a former president of Pyrotronics, was available for public comment until March 10, 2014 and approved by the Court on April 7, 2014. The settlement requires payment of $11 million to help fund the cleanup and partially reimburse EPA for money spent on investigation work at the Site. See "Legal Documents" below for a copy of the consent decree.
Documents and Reports
Public Meetings: December 2, 2009 - EPA and the California Department of Public Health held a joint public meeting in Rialto, CA
USEPA Introduction to BF Goodrich Superfund | English | Spanish CDPH Public Health Assesment Presentation | English | Spanish
February 10, 2010 - EPA explained its proposed groundwater cleanup plan at a public meeting in Rialto, CA
October - November 2010 - EPA interviewed community members in the Rialto area to support development of a Community Involvement Plan. A copy of the Plan is available in the Documents and Reports section.
June 2013 - EPA prepared a fact sheet to update the community on progress at the Site. A copy of the fact sheet is available in the Documents and Reports section.
July 2014 - EPA provided training to 17 residents from Rialto and surrounding areas to prepare the trainees for environmental jobs related to the cleanup of the Rockets, Fireworks and Flares Superfund site. The training, part of a Superfund "Job Training Initiative," is expected to help local residents find work in positions with site contractors and off-site employers in the community.
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
EPA Site Manager
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
After Hours (Emergency Response)