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Release Date: 7/1/1996
Contact Information: Karen Caesar RWQCB, (213) 266-7569 Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587

 (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) and the California Regional Water Quality Control Board today announced that the agencies have jointly sent out letters to 464 businesses who will not be asked to contribute to the cleanup of groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Valley Superfund sites.

     "This action meets U.S. EPA's goal of fair, responsible, implementation of the Superfund law," said Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's regional Superfund director. "We want to be sensitive to the concerns of local businesses who have not contributed to the contamination and deserve to be released from the uncertainty over their potential financial liability. Thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Regional Board, U.S. EPA has successfully identified parties who are responsible for most of the groundwater contamination in the San Gabriel Valley.  Our continuing enforcement efforts will ensure that only parties who are responsible for the contamination foot the bill for the cleanup."

     Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Executive Officer Robert Ghirelli pointed out what these letters will mean to members of the San Gabriel business community.  "Now that the responsible parties will be footing the bill for cleanup, local business and property owners who are not guilty of groundwater contamination can get on with their lives.  Many have been wondering if they could be held accountable for pollution they didn't cause and forced to pay huge cleanup fees. I am happy to say that 464 business owners in the San Gabriel Valley will be freed from this worry.  These letters demonstrate how government agencies can work together efficiently and effectively to benefit the local economy and the public."

     These letters combined with 1575 similar notices previously sent brings the total to 2039 for the San Gabriel business community.  Letters have also been sent to 2290 members of the San Fernando Valley business community.

     The Regional Water Quality Control Board is responsible for  investigation of more than 9,000 sites in both the San Gabriel and San Fernando Valleys, and for oversight of soil remediation.  The Board sets standards for soil cleanups and surface and groundwater quality.  The Regional Board urged U.S. EPA to consider the process of freeing some businesses in both the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys from any further cleanup obligations based on site inspections and a determination that the companies used few or no chemicals.  

     U.S. EPA has taken several actions to protect the San Gabriel Valley sites since they were placed on the National Priorities List for Superfund cleanup in 1984. The Agency has reached agreements with more than 70 companies to contribute to the cleanup. In the Baldwin Park area, 16 companies are beginning to design one of the largest groundwater treatment systems in the history of Superfund. Businesses responsible for the contamination in the cities of Industry, La Puente, El Monte, and South El Monte have agreed to complete investigations and develop cleanup options for those areas.

     In addition, U.S. EPA has reached two agreements with prospective business purchasers which have allowed new economic growth while the cleanup continues in the San Gabriel Valley.  The Agency is also working with federal, state and local agencies to coordinate water cleanup and water reuse options.

     The San Gabriel Valley Superfund sites are located in suburban Los Angeles County.  Significant portions of the cities of La Puente, Industry, Azusa, Baldwin Park, Irwindale, El Monte, South El Monte, Rosemead, and Alhambra are included.  The San Gabriel Valley Area Superfund site was placed on the National Priorities List (NPL) in 1984 because the groundwater is contaminated by volatile organic compounds.  The NPL is the U.S. EPA's list of hazardous waste sites potentially posing the greatest long-term threat to public health and the environment.
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