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1995 News Releases



Release Date: 8/25/1995
Contact Information: Karen Caesar RWQCB, (213) 266-7569 Dave Schmidt, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1578


 (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the Los Angeles/Ventura Regional Water Quality Control Board today announced that the agencies are sending out letters to 1406 businesses who have not caused and therefore will not be asked to contribute to the cleanup of groundwater contamination in the San Fernando Valley Superfund sites.

     "We believe that environmental protection and sensitivity to local businesses can and must go hand-in-hand in the San Fernando 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, relieving the other companies of the possibility of cleanup costs, while we focus our effort on getting the cleanup done and seeking recovery from more likely contributors.  We want to thank the Regional Board for their leadership and partnership in this effort."  

     "These letters are an outstanding demonstration of how government agencies can work together efficiently and effectively to help the public," stated Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Chairman Michael Keston.  "For too long, thousands of property and business owners in both the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys were living and working under a cloud of uncertainty about their financial futures because of their fears of having to pay huge costs for water cleanup.  Now they are all free from the possibility of having to foot the bill for an enormous cleanup for pollution they did not cause.  And they are also free to expand their businesses, hire new employees, and invest in their futures.  Today is a great day for all of us who care about the economy of the San Fernando Valley."
     The Regional Water Quality Control Board is responsible for investigation of some 20,000 sites in both the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys, and for oversight of soil remediation.  The Board sets standards for soil cleanups and surface and groundwater quality.  The Regional Board urged U.S. EPA to consider freeing some businesses in both the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys from any further cleanup obligations.  The decision of which businesses would be released was based on site inspections and a determination that the companies in question used few or no chemicals, and did not have historical site concerns.  

     U.S. EPA has taken several actions to protect the San Fernando Valley sites since they were placed on the National Priorities List for Superfund cleanup in 1986.  Lockheed Corp., with U.S. EPA oversight, is building a treatment plant to clean up the groundwater in the Burbank area.  In March 1994, 25 companies reached an agreement with U.S. EPA requiring them to design a treatment plant to clean up contaminated groundwater in the Glendale area.  A treatment plant in North Hollywood began operation to clean contaminated groundwater in 1989.  

     The San Fernando Valley Superfund sites were placed on the federal Superfund National Priorities List in 1986 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.  U.S. EPA identifies and ranks NPL sites according to threats to nearby populations through actual or potential contamination of groundwater, surface water or air.

     The letters to 1406 San Fernando property and business owners were preceded by a mailing in March 1995 to 1575 members of the San Gabriel business community, freeing them of any further obligation to clean up existing groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Basin.

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