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Release Date: 3/2/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

    (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(U.S. EPA) today announced that it has collected over $570,000
from 226 medical facilities in California, Nevada and Arizona to
pay for the clean up of a lead smelter site in Bell Gardens,

     "In this case, we were able to convince the responsible
parties to reimburse U.S. EPA for the cleanup of the site without
resorting to lengthy law suits or negotiations," said Jeff
Zelikson, regional hazardous waste management division director.
"U.S. EPA made a one time, business-like offer to the parties.
We're extremely pleased that the facilities agreed that the
settlement was in their best interest and the right thing to do.

    "This case is also an excellent example of the U.S. EPA's
recent initiatives designed to streamline the recovery of costs
for cleanup actions."  

     The lead smelting company, known as King Neptune, bought
from the medical facilities lead containers that they used to
store radiological pharmaceuticals. King Neptune melted down
about 343,000 pounds of lead containers and used them to make
scuba diving and deep sea fishing weights between 1955 and 1992,
the span of the smelting operation. In the spring of 1992, U.S.
EPA found that the building and surrounding soil were
contaminated with lead. U.S. EPA demolished the building and
removed the soils.  

     Exposure to lead can damage the brain and nervous system,
and lead to learning disabilities, hearing impairement, and
interference in the formation of red blood cells.

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