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
Construction of the 1st of two planned groundwater cleanup projects is largely complete, with startup activities expected to continue into 2018..
A public hearing on the final planned Consent Decree is scheduled for September 26, 2017 at the Grace Vargas senior center in Rialto, CA.
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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 used by the United States Army in the 1940s as 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, the 160-Acre Area 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, since 2003, numerous investigations have been conducted to determine the extent of soil and groundwater contamination at the Site. The studies have included the installation of a network of deep groundwater monitoring wells, annual testing of existing groundwater wells, and soil and soil gas testing at locations on the 160-Acre Area where chemicals may have been spilled or disposed. The studies have been overseen by the Water Board, EPA, and the California Department of Toxic Substances. The Santa Ana Water Board's website includes information on studies overseen by the Water Board, primarily between 2003 and 2009.
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)
|2003-07||various||See summary of sampling activities below.*|
|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 - 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 - 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 (report corrected Feb 27, 2013*)||EPA sampling of approximately 22 existing groundwater monitoring and water supply wells (ITSI)|
|June - July 2012||Dec 14, 2012 (report corrected 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 groundwater monitoring wells EMW-01, EMW-03, EMW-04, and EMW-05. (ERM)|
|August 2014||October 2014*|
|Emhart Industries sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells EMW-01, EMW-03 thru EMW-05, EPA-MP4, PW-2 thru PW-8, 1N5W-34D (ERM)|
|April - Nov 2014||February 2015*||Goodrich Corp installation and sampling of two multi-level groundwater monitoring wells (PW-13, PW-14) and sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells PW-5, PW-9 thru 12, EPA-MP1 thru 3, EPA-MP5 thru 8, CPW-16, CPW-17, 1S/4W-8E, 1S/5W-11F, 1S/5W-13B, and 1S/5W-3A. (EnSafe)|
|March- Apr 2015||April 27, 2015*||Emhart Industries supplemental sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells EMW-01, EMW-03, and EMW-04 (AECOM)|
|July 2015||1/15/2016*||Goodrich Corp. sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells (EnSafe)|
|July 2015||10/12/15*||Emhart Industries sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells (AECOM)|
|July2016||10/1/2016*||Goodrich Corp. sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells (EnSafe)|
|August 2016||11/1/2016*||Emhart Industries sampling of existing groundwater monitoring wells (AECOM)|
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" and released a proposed plan for an initial groundwater cleanup project at the Site. After explaining its proposal at a public meeting in Rialto, CA, and carefully considering comments on its proposal, 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.
Design work on the project was completed in 2014, as described below. The remedy includes groundwater extraction wells; liquid-phase granular activated carbon (LGAC) to remove trichloroethene (TCE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the extracted groundwater; an ion exchange system to remove perchlorate from the extracted groundwater; pipelines and pumps to convey the treated water from the treatment plant to the city of Rialto's drinking water distribution system; and a groundwater monitoring program. The estimated cost of the remedy is $14 million for design and construction, and over $1 million for annual operation and maintenance.
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. Contact information is provided below.
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 late 2018 or early 2019. 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 largely 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 that was used to select groundwater extraction rates and locations for the design of the Source Area remedy. Construction of a new water treatment systems, pipelines, and a new groundwater extraction well began in fall 2015 and was largely completed in early 2017. As part of the design process, Emhart installed six additional groundwater monitoring wells (EMW-01, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07) in late 2013 and early 2014. Summaries of results from the new wells and from existing wells in the Source Area OU are available in the Technical Documents section below, in reports prepared in July 2014, October 2014, April 2015, October 2015, and November 2016.
EPA expects to make a decision about the need for soil cleanup and a second groundwater cleanup remedy in late 2018 or early 2019. To provide information needed to support that decision, EPA completed testing between 2008 and 2012 and 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.
As part of the "Mid-basin Operable Unit," three multi-level groundwater monitoring wells were installed and tested in 2013, two more wells installed in 2014, and an additional well cluster in 2016. Two more well clusters are planned for late 2017. Existing groundwater wells are generally tested annually. Summaries of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 testing results are available in the Technical Documents section below.
EPA and the Goodrich Corp. participated in a joint agency effort to develop a groundwater flow and transport model of the Rialto-Colton basin. Participants in the joint effort included the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District, the West Valley Water District, the cities of Rialto, Colton, and Riverside, San Bernardino County, and the USGS. The model is being used to help evaluate groundwater remediation options for the Mid-basin Operable Unit.
As part of the "Soils Operable Unit," Goodrich Corp has installed and sampled six 400' vapor monitoring wells (SV-4 through SV-9) near a former disposal pit. A final report providing sampling results is expected in late 2017.
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)
- The estate of 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 required 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.
The sixth and last planned Consent Decree, with the estate of Chung Ming Wong, was made available for public comment in August 2017. A public hearing on the proposed Consent Decree is scheduled for September 26, 2017 at the Grace Vargas senior center in Rialto, CA.
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.
March 2015 - EPA and its contractors completed an assessment of the community's technical assistance needs related to the cleanup of the RFF site.
September 2015 - 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.
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)