Pacific Southwest, Region 9: Superfund
Serving Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, the Pacific Islands, and Tribal Nations
Newmark Groundwater Contamination
EPA #: CAD981434517
County: San Bernardino
City: San Bernardino
Congressional District: 40
Other Names: North San Bernardino Muscoy Site San Bernardino - Muscoy Area
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Description and History
NPL Listing History
NPL Status: Final
Proposed Date: 06/24/88
Final Date: 03/31/89
The Newmark Groundwater Contamination site underlies approximately eight square miles of land in the northwestern and west-central portions of San Bernardino, California, which have been developed for light industry and residential use. The site consists of two contaminated groundwater plumes at the base of the San Bernardino Mountains: the Newmark Plume area extends for 5 miles on the eastern side of Shandin Hills, while the 4-mile long Muscoy Plume area lies to the west of Shandin Hills. The groundwater contamination from Norton Air Force Base is not considered part of this site.
Detection of the contamination occurred in 1980 with the institution of a water supply monitoring program, although the suspected disposal may have occurred as early as the 1940s. The discovery of the contaminants, including chlorinated solvents, tetrachloroethylene (PCE), and trichloroethylene (TCE), resulted in the closing of 20 water supply wells within a 6-mile radius of the site. Twelve of the wells resumed operation after the State installed air stripping towers on eight wells and carbon filtration systems on the other four.
The site covers part of an essential groundwater aquifer for the City of San Bernardino. The Bunker Hill Basin’s primary groundwater supplies water to the city and its surrounding areas. More than 25 percent of the municipal water supply for the City of San Bernardino's 175,000 residents had been affected by the advancing contamination plumes. The City of Riverside, with a population of approximately 250,000, relies on wells down gradient from the Newmark plume for approximately 75 percent of its total water supply. Over 115,000 people in the rapidly growing communities of Colton, Loma Linda, Fontana, Rialto, and several unincorporated areas also used well water unprotected from the contamination. Newmark groundwater is a primary local source of public water for the City of San Bernardino.
Contaminants and Risks
Groundwater contains volatile organic compounds (VOCs) including TCE and PCE. People who drink or come into direct contact with contaminated groundwater may suffer adverse health effects.
Investigation and Cleanup Activities
This site is being addressed in two stages: (1) an immediate action to inhibit further spread of the two contaminant plumes (Newmark Plume and the Muscoy Plume); and, (2) long-term remedial actions addressing the Newmark Plume Area, the Muscoy Plume Area, and the source of the contamination.
Immediate Action: In May 1992, the EPA conducted a soil gas investigation to evaluate the need for a removal action at a potential disposal site in a residential neighborhood. It was confirmed that a disposal trench existed but no VOCs were present. In-home air sampling confirmed that volatile contaminants from the groundwater were not detectable in residences above the contaminated groundwater. In October 1993, EPA conducted a state-of-the-art subsurface survey over several acres to investigate a potential military equipment disposal area. No buried waste was discovered.
Newmark Plume Area: An investigation was initiated in 1990 to identify the source of the contaminant plume on the east side of the Shandin Hills, and to identify ways to control continued down-gradient migration of the plume while removing contaminants. The investigation determined that the contamination originated at least 2 miles upgradient of the site in another portion of the valley. An interim remedy was chosen in 1993 to pump and treat nearly 18 million gallons of contaminated water per day. This action is controlling the spread of contamination into clean parts of the aquifer and prevent additional contaminants from entering this part of the valley. The water is being treated by conventional activated carbon adsorption technology to meet all drinking water standards. The treated water is being delivered to the local municipal water departments, which are bearing the majority of the operating costs. Design of the remedy began in 1993, property for 7 well sites was purchased in 1995 and construction was completed in October 1998. It was expected that the cleanup actions would take approximately 30 years.
Muscoy Plume Area: The investigation of the Muscoy area began in 1992, identifying the source or sources of contamination and determining how to control the migration of the plume. In 1994, the EPA separated the Muscoy Area into two projects: the Muscoy Plume, targeted at controlling the spread of contamination into clean areas; and the Source project, which will address final cleanup of the source of contamination (described below). The interim remedy for the Muscoy Plume was chosen in 1995. The remedy involves pumping of approximately 9 million gallons per day from the leading edge of the plume (to prevent the further spread of contamination), treating the water with conventional technologies to drinking water standards, and delivering the treated water to local water departments. Design of the remedy began in 1995, and initial construction activities started Fall 2000. The facility began operation in 2005.
On August 18, 2004, the EPA issued an Explanation of Significant Differences to provide notice of changes to the 1993 and 1995 Interim Records of Decision for the site. The purpose was to supplement the existing RODs with an institutional controls program. It assures that the Newmark and Muscoy treatment systems remain effective in meeting the objectives of capturing contaminated groundwater and inhibiting the movement of contaminated water into clean portions of the groundwater.
On August 18, 2004, a Consent Decree was lodged in the District Court which resolved a lawsuit brought by the City of San Bernardino and the Department of Toxic Substances Control against the U.S. Army over groundwater contamination. Under the settlement, the United States paid to the City of San Bernardino $69 million. The City is required to use most of the money to operate and maintain the EPA's groundwater treatment remedies at the Newmark Superfund Site, for up to fifty years. In addition, the City used some of the funds for other activities related to the cleanup, and build additional City treatment plants to expand its water treatment capacity.
Source Control: The investigation of potential groundwater contaminant source(s) has been completed. The U.S. Army settled its potential liability for contamination at the Newmark Site; the Army leased approximately 1600 acres for use as a base from 1942 until 1947 and various activity areas on the former base property were investigated as potential contaminant source areas. However, EPA has made a final determination regarding responsibility for the contamination. EPA worked with State, and San Bernardino City and County authorities to identify potential sources of groundwater contamination. Through various investigations, no ongoing sourcing at the Site or sources of contamination were identified. The Site transitioned from a containment remedy to a restoration remedy, which was documented in the 2015 Newmark Operable Unit and Muscoy Operable Unit Final Record of Decision.
Cleanup Results to Date
After adding this site to the NPL, the EPA performed preliminary investigations and determined that no immediate actions were required at the Newmark Groundwater site while studies were performed and final cleanup activities were planned. The San Bernardino Municipal Water Department has constructed and operated four wellhead treatment systems to ensure the safety of the public water supply. Presently, both the Newmark and Muscoy treatment systems are operating.
The second Five-Year Review Report was completed in September 2013 and concluded that the remedy at the Newmark Site is protective of human health and the environment because exposure pathways that could result in unacceptable risks are being controlled. The third FYR is due September 2018.
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.
On-line information about the PRPs for the site is available in the Consent Decree documents of the Documents and Reports section below.
Documents and Reports
2) 2000 July: Community Meeting on San Bernardino's Expansion of the 19th Street Facility
2) 2000 July: Reunion de la comunidad sobre la expansion de la planta del tratamiento de agua en calle 19
Public Information Repositories
The public information repositories for the site are at the following locations:
John M. Pfau Library
Cal-State San Bernardino
5500 University Parkway
San Bernardino, CA 92407
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)