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Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund

Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations

Spectra-Physics, Inc.

EPA #: CAD009138488

State: California(CA)

County: Santa Clara

City: Mountain View

Congressional District: 14

Other Names:

Bulletin Board

EPA is currently evaluating the potential for vapor intrusion in buildings overlying the shallow groundwater contamination area. On December 3, 2013 EPA sent a letter to the State of California's Regional Water Quality Control Board providing guidelines for vapor intrusion sampling and evaluation at this and 10 other South Bay State-lead sites.

Description and History

NPL Listing History

NPL Status: Final

Proposed Date: 06/24/88

Final Date: 02/11/91

Deleted Date:

The 11-acre Spectra-Physics, Inc., site has been the location of a manufacturer of electronic equipment and gas lasers since 1961. Beginning in 1981, Spectra-Physics, Inc. stored its hazardous wastes on bermed concrete pads. Only one storage area has a cement floor without a berm, and that area is used for storing solid wastes. A variety of cleaners, degreasers, and lubricants are used in the manufacturing process. Wastes from manufacturing processes include volatile organic compounds (VOCs), paints, oils, acids, and bases. In 1981, the State discovered areas where hazardous wastes were stored that had no dikes or leachate collection systems. Additionally, several on-site wastewater sumps are suspected of contributing VOCs to the soils and groundwater. Contaminated groundwater from the site has moved off site to the north and merged with the contaminated plume of another NPL site, the Teledyne Semiconductor, Inc. site, which borders the Spectra-Physics, Inc. site. The two firms are jointly cleaning up the sites. Approximately 189,000 people live within a 3-mile radius of the site. The closest residence is located 200 feet southwest of the site. San Francisco Bay is 2 miles downstream of the site and is used for recreation. The tides that influence the Bay also influence Permanente Creek, which is within 1 mile of the site. Several species of endangered birds are found within the area of tidal influence.

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Contaminants and Risks

Contaminated Media
  • Groundwater
  • Surface Water
  • Soil and Sludges
  • Environmentally Sensitive Area

Soil contained VOCs, but has since been cleaned up. Groundwater is contaminated with VOCs. Drinking water is not affected by this contamination. Drinking water for this area comes from the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in the Sierra Nevada, not from regional groundwater.

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Who is Involved

This site is being addressed through Federal, State, and potentially responsible parties' actions.

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Investigation and Cleanup Activities

Initial Actions

Initial Actions: In 1987, one wastewater sump was removed, and 6 feet of surrounding soils were excavated. In 1986 and 1988, an on-site shallow groundwater extraction well and one intermediate zone groundwater extraction well were installed. These wells were installed to prevent the plume of contaminants from migrating off site. Twenty additional wells were installed and have begun extracting groundwater from the off-site contaminant plume areas. Extracted groundwater is discharged to the City of Palo Alto sanitary sewer system. All actions were performed by Teledyne and Spectra-Physics.

Cleanup Ongoing

Entire Site: In 1991, the EPA chose the following cleanup remedies: vapor extraction for soil cleanup, groundwater extraction and treatment, and quarterly monitoring of the groundwater as well as the soil. Soil cleanup has been completed. Groundwater treatment will continue until established cleanup goals are met. EPA and DTSC are reviewing reports leading to possible delisting of the site in the near term, if the cleanup goals can be demonstrated to have been met.

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Cleanup Results to Date

The construction of all cleanup remedies is complete. The removal of sumps and contaminated soil and the installation of groundwater extraction wells have reduced the potential of exposure to contaminants at the Spectra-Physics, Inc. site while groundwater treatment is being completed.

The Third Five-Year Review for the site was completed in September 2009, and in the Spring Street and North Bayshore areas, the vapor intrusion exposure pathway is currently being evaluated. An addendum to the 2009 Five Year Review is required.

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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.

Online information about the PRPs for the site is not yet available.

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Documents and Reports

Show details for Community InvolvementCommunity Involvement
Show details for Fact SheetsFact Sheets
Show details for MapsMaps
Show details for Records of DecisionRecords of Decision
Show details for Technical DocumentsTechnical Documents

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Community Involvement

Public Meetings:

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Public Information Repositories

The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:

Mountain View Public Library
585 Franklin Street
Mountain View, CA 94041

California Regional Water Quality Control Board
1515 Clay Street
Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612

The most complete collection of documents is the official EPA site file, maintained at the following location:

Superfund Records Center

Mail Stop SFD-7C

95 Hawthorne Street, Room 403

San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 820-4700

Enter main lobby of 75 Hawthorne street, go to 4th floor of South Wing Annex.

Additional Links

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EPA Site Manager
Melanie Morash
US EPA Region 9
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Community Involvement Coordinator
Alejandro Diaz
US EPA Region 9
Mail Code SFD
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
EPA Public Information Center
State Contact
Roger Papler
California Regional Water Quality Control Board
1515 Clay Street
Suite 1400
Oakland, CA 94612
PRP Contact
Community Contact
Other Contacts
After Hours (Emergency Response)
(800) 424-8802

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