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Release Date: 8/7/2000
Contact Information: Randy Wittorp, U.S. EPA, 415-744-1589, Stacey Aldstadt, SBMWD, 909-384-7210

     Agencies will work with community on well site conditions
     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the San Bernardino Municipal Water Department announced today their decision to construct the second phase of a groundwater treatment system at the Newmark Superfund site in San Bernardino to clean up contaminated groundwater and protect the city's water supply.

     Following a series of public meetings to hear affected residents' concerns about the project, the agencies reevaluated their plans and looked for ways to address the community's concerns.  

     "The location of the contamination is the driver determining where the wells and the pipeline  have to go," said Keith Takata, the EPA's regional Superfund director.  "But meeting with the community has helped us to make substantial improvements to this project.  We will do all we can to be good neighbors during construction and throughout the operation of these facilities."

     Residents in the area were concerned about the aesthetics of the well sites and impacts of the treatment plant expansion. Residents worked with the city to bring forward potential solutions,  including building home facades that help the well sites blend into the neighborhood and adding more sound- proofing and landscaping to the treatment plant.

     The water department and the EPA will work with local residents to improve the aesthetics of each site.  Meetings will be conducted before construction to develop a site mitigation and community involvement plan.  Once construction is completed, crews will check all the sites daily and ensure that the surrounding property is well maintained.  The agencies will also provide information to the community on jobs that become available during and after construction.

     Residents had requested that the project be moved to Baseline Street.  But moving the wells and the pipeline could put the effectiveness of the treatment system at risk, be more invasive to other residents, set the construction schedule back by a year, and run into regulatory hurdles.  The contaminants continue to spread every day and any further delay could result in the contamination of clean drinking water wells.

     Construction will begin in November and the system should go on-line in early 2002.  Drilling of each well will last about 4 weeks and measures will be taken to minimize noise from the drill rigs.

     "The water department intends to be a good neighbor while it participates in this important public health project," said Stacey Aldstadt, Deputy General Manager of the San Bernardino Municipal Water Department.

     The contaminated water supply includes eight square miles of groundwater tainted by perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene -- industrial dry cleaning, metal plating and degreasing solvents.  Immediately following discovery of the contaminants, one-third of the City of San Bernardino's water supply wells were shut down.  A State Superfund project restored most of those wells to full production between 1988 and 1992.

     The Newmark Superfund Site, listed as a national priority for cleanup in 1989, is one of the largest Superfund sites in the country.  Treatment is expected to proceed for at least 30 years and cost about $100 million.