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U.S. EPA begins round of notice and settlement offers at Superfund site in Whittier

Release Date: 10/30/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, 415-947-4297

LOS ANGELES -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it has notified 316 businesses and government agencies that they are liable for part of the cost of ongoing cleanup at the Omega Superfund site in Whittier.

This is the initial notice to small volume, or de minimis, parties for the Omega site. Letters were sent this week to the businesses and government agencies -- which include local, county, state and federal entities -- that contributed between three and 10 tons to the solvent recycling facility when the company was in business.

The Omega Chemical Corporation and Refrigerant Reclamation Co. operated a used solvent and refrigerant recycling and reformulation treatment facility from 1976 to 1991. The company primarily handled chemicals used in refrigerator and freezer coils and chlorinated solvents that included degreasing chemicals and dry-cleaning chemicals.

In early 2004, the EPA will make a monetary settlement offer to the letter recipients. The amount each will pay is based on how much waste they sent to Omega when it was operating as a solvent recycling facility, and the money will be used for the cleanup.

"This is an important step for Omega, and we look forward to securing settlements and making further progress toward a full site cleanup," said Keith Takata, Superfund division director in the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "The strategy we are employing at Omega fosters fair settlements with small contributors now, and in the future."

The EPA will have an estimate on cleanup costs in December, but by settling with the EPA, de minimis parties will receive both a covenant not to sue a promise that the EPA will not bring future legal actions against the settler regarding the site, except in very limited circumstances and contribution protection that offers settlors protection from being sued by other parties potentially responsible for contamination at the site. Frequently, major waste contributors sue small waste contributors to recover cleanup costs.

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