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Citizen, congressional concerns prompt U.S. EPA to take action

Release Date: 02/14/2008
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 798-1404,, or Mary Simms, 415-947-4270,

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2008

Citizen, congressional concerns prompt U.S. EPA to take action
Investigation will determine if Smith & Thompson waste site is a threat to human health, local water supply

    SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a geophysical survey and will conduct a preliminary assessment of an illegal disposal site known as the Smith and Thompson Pumping Company Site in Lancaster, California.

    Court-ordered surface clean-up of the site is complete; the EPA’s investigation will determine if hazardous waste is buried underground.

    “We’re conducing a thorough investigation to determine if there is any danger to residents in the surrounding community,” said Rich Martyn,” Federal On-scene Coordinator for the Superfund Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “So far, we have not found an imminent, substantial threat – but if we do, we will take action.”

    The EPA estimates the preliminary assessment and survey will be completed by early summer. The geophysical survey will be completed first, and will help the EPA identify if there is waste buried underground at the Site. The EPA began the geophysical investigation February 13th, using ground penetrating radar to identify potential hazards, and shovels to recover them.

    In 2005, two drums were unearthed at the site, both of which were later determined to be non-hazardous. To date, no additional drums have been found.

    Following the geophysical survey, the EPA will conduct a preliminary assessment that will review possible longer term threats posed by the site, with respect to soil and groundwater contamination. The preliminary assessment will provide an abbreviated evaluation of the site's eligibility for the Superfund National Priorities List.

    Together, these studies should provide the information the EPA needs to evaluate if the site poses a risk to nearby residents and water supplies.

    The EPA will continue to work closely will1 the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to investigate and further remediate this site.

    For additional background information on the site please visit:, or