The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two aerospace companies to complete more than $21 million in cleanup work at a Superfund site near Hollywood Burbank Airport, the agency announced Wednesday.
2 Year Groundwater Treatment Investigation against Lockheed Martin Corp. and Honeywell International Inc.
Following two intense years of negotiation, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. have agreed to expand groundwater treatment and do more groundwater contamination studies at the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site – a 20-square-mile area of contaminated groundwater located mostly in North Hollywood and Burbank, federal officials said.
Superfund sites are those that have been significantly contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup.
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California Valley Water to be Cleaned By Martin Corp. and Honeywell
This Valley Superfund site was once used to build airplanes and other devices. Chemicals were dumped into the ground here before experts understood that it would pollute the massive reservoir of water that lies under the San Fernando Valley.
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Since 1989, roughly $250 million has been spent in the building and operating of Superfund remedies by a number of responsible parties, said Caleb Shaffer, the EPA’s section chief for Superfund Region 9. The remedies have resulted in the removal of more than 6,000 pounds of harmful volatile organic compounds at the site as well as the treatment of over 10 billion gallons of groundwater.
“The bunching of these three orders really represent a significant upgrade and expansion in terms of the amount of contamination that would be captured. It really represents a monumental success,” Shaffer said.
“It will not only continue to capture the contamination that we’ve been capturing since 1989, but because of these improvements it will accelerate that and will capture more quickly, more efficiently.”
Because the pollution reached the groundwater and was defused over the years within a large area, the remedies are going to have to operate for “decades and decades,” Shaffer said.
Lockheed and Honeywell make up two of the larger parties that the EPA has worked with that are responsible for contamination at the site. Shaffer said they have both stepped up in good faith to address the issue, he said.
The federal agency has looked at 800 parties at 400 different facilities and found that “a large number of them were responsible” for contamination there.
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The site is divided into the “Burbank Operable Unit” that’s located mainly in the city of Burbank and south of the Burbank airport as well as the “North Hollywood Operable Unit,” which is west of the Burbank site.
Honeywell must build four wells to extract contaminated groundwater on the western end of the North Hollywood site and build a treatment system for harmful volatile organic compounds to prevent further groundwater contamination, according to the EPA. That project, which will be completed in 2019, is estimated to cost $10 million.
In addition, Lockheed Martin Corp. must design, build and operate wells to extract contaminated groundwater for the eastern portion of the North Hollywood site, according to the EPA. Federal officials say the system, which will cost about $10 million and will be completed around 2020, will prevent the further spread of groundwater contamination.
The EPA also modified its 2009 decision to clean up groundwater contamination at the North Hollywood site. Among the changes are increased groundwater extraction and expanded treatment plant capacity to treat extracted water.
Finally, Lockheed has to conduct a feasibility study at the Burbank area site, where groundwater conditions and the spread of contamination has changed due to fluctuating water levels. Data from that study, which will cost up to $1 million dollars, will be used to develop any necessary steps to prevent further contamination.
Laura Toole, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, said in an email that the company is already working to implement the actions outlined by the EPA and “will continue working cooperatively with EPA and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Burbank Water and Power, to meet all of its cleanup commitments.”
A spokeswoman for Honeywell said in a written statement that the company is “committed to continuing our work under the direction of EPA to fulfill our obligations.”
The EPA will continue to work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power along with the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board to implement a full cleanup, according to federal officials.
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said the additional cleanup work at the North Hollywood site is part of a more robust and comprehensive solution that the EPA, the California Water Resources Control Board, the Regional Water Quality Control Board, LADWP, Honeywell, Lockheed and other possibly responsible parties are working on.
“It will serve to more effectively remediate groundwater contamination at the (North Hollywood area) and within the greater San Fernando Basin, and return groundwater to its intended beneficial use as local drinking water supply,” the local utility said in a statement.
LADWP has seven well fields near or within the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site. Over the last decade, groundwater from the agency’s well fields has contributed to about 12 percent of the city’s water supply, according to the EPA.
In the San Fernando Valley, there are also Superfund sites in Glendale and just south of Glendale, Shaffer said.
City News Service contributed to this report.