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Release Date: 6/3/1996
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Contacts: Karen Caesar RWQCB Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA
(213) 266-7569 (415) 744-1587


(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 884 businesses who will not be asked to contribute to the cleanup of groundwater contamination in the San Fernando Valley Superfund sites.

"Today's action meets U.S. EPA's goal of fair, responsible, implementation of the Superfund law," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's regional Superfund Director. "We want to be sensitive to the concerns of local businesses. Businesses which will not be asked to pay deserve to be informed and relieved of any uncertainty over their potential financial liability. U.S. EPA and the Regional Board intend to continue our efforts to draw a clear line between those who should pay and those who should not. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Regional Board, U.S. EPA has successfully identified parties who are responsible for most of the groundwater contamination in the San Fernando Valley. Our continuing enforcement efforts will ensure that responsible parties foot the bill for the cleanup."

Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Robert Ghirelli pointed out what these letters will mean to members of the San Fernando business community. "Now that the responsible parties will be footing the bill for cleanup, local business and property owners who are not guilty of groundwater contamination can get on with their lives. Many have been wondering if they could be held accountable for pollution they didn't cause and forced to pay huge cleanup fees. Today, I am happy to say that 884 business owners in the San Fernando Valley will be freed from this worry. These letters demonstrate how government agencies can work together efficiently and effectively to benefit the local economy and the public."

Today's action follows similar notices to 1,406 San Fernando Valley businesses in August 1995. It brings the number of San Fernando Valley property and business owners cleared from further action to date to 2290. In March 1995, 1,575 members of the San Gabriel business community were freed from any further obligation to clean up existing roundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Basin. Additional San Gabriel businesses will be issued similar letters in the near future.

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 Martin Corp., with U.S. EPA oversight, is operating a treatment plant to clean up the groundwater in the Burbank area. In Glendale, a group of 25 businesses, under an agreement with U.S. EPA, has completed design of a treatment plant to clean up contaminated groundwater in that 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.

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