(December 7) The Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with 12 corporate entities and the Defense Department that will provide $51 million for the remediation of 60 acres in Rialto beset with perchlorate contamination.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced it had reached a settlement on the case with Emhart Industries, Inc., Black & Decker Inc, American Promotional Events, Inc., the Ensign-Bickford Company, Raytheon, Whittaker Corporation, Broco, Inc., J. S. Brower & Associates, Inc, Pyro Spectaculars, Ken Thompson Inc., Chung Ming Wong, BF Goodrich, and the Department of Defense on December 5.
In the late 1990s, a plume of contaminants containing perchlorate was found to be migrating through the local water table. Officials began a study into entities known to have been or believed to be engaged in manufacturing activities that resulted in the accumulation and release of the perchlorate. It is believed that the 12 corporate entities or their predecessors had operations that were ongoing in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s which involved the use, storage or disposal of perrchlorate and that they engaged in activities or handling procedures that led to the contamination. The county of San Bernardino acquired a waste disposal facility operated by Broco and simply razed the facility, according to lawyers for the West Valley Water District. Perchlorate is a product used in the manufacture of both fireworks and ordnance. In very minute quantities perchlorate can wreak havoc on the thyroid gland.
The area, referred to as the Goodrich Site, was designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of its Superfund sites, which makes federal funding for the remediation available but also carries with it a requirement that the parties responsible for the contamination assist in the cleanup effort. If any of the parties deemed responsible for the contamination refuse to sponsor or otherwise pay for a share of the remediation, the EPA has the authority under federal law to have any party proven responsible to pay triple the cost of that portion of the cleanup for which they were the contaminating party.
Rialto and Colton and the West Valley Water District, which had previously sued the companies, are parties to the settlement agreement.
Emhart will put up the lion’s share of the first portion of the clean-up cost. The other entities will participate in what is anticipated to be a 30-year long undertaking that will include designing, building and operating groundwater wells, treatment systems and purification equipment intended to arrest the spread of perchlorate and another substance, trichloroethylene, known as TCE. TCE is a health threatening industrial cleaning solvent used by area manufacturers.