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Release Date: 4/22/1998
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

Released jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Attorney's Office announced that an $18 million settlement has been reached with 146 entities -- including Chevron Oil Co. -- to pay for and complete the remaining groundwater and soil cleanup at the Purity Oil Superfund Site near Fresno, Calif.
     "The hard work of all the parties on this settlement has really paid off," said Keith Takata, Director of the Superfund Division in U.S. EPA Region 9.  "Now we have the funds committed to finish the cleanup and protect human health and the environment at the Purity site."

     According to the settlement, Chevron will continue to operate a groundwater cleanup system at the site, remove contamination from soil, and cap remaining contaminated soil. EPA estimates the value of the remaining cleanup work to be $18 million. Of this amount, 146 parties will pay Chevron about $10 million to cover the cost of a portion of this cleanup work. EPA forgave $11 million in past cleanup costs. While working with the parties in this case, EPA used a new, creative mechanism under Superfund reform that allows parties to settle without having to be responsible for paying the share of cleanup costs for companies that have gone out of business or are insolvent. The settlement was lodged April 21, 1998 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California.

     "We are glad that the cleanup is continuing with funding issues resolved," said Paul L. Seave, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California.

     The groundwater is contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals, including iron and manganese. The groundwater treatment system -- which strips  contaminants from the water -- has been in place since 1995. Soils at the site are contaminated with phenols, polychlorinated  biphenyls, pesticides, oil and grease, VOCs, and lead, copper and zinc. The soil cleanup involves removing contaminated vapors from the soil, and capping lead-contaminated soil. EPA is also requiring the lining of a flood control channel. This work began earlier this year.

     The seven-acre Purity Oil site, located in the Malaga township, refined petroleum waste oils at the site between 1934 and 1975. The oil and by-products from the refining process were collected and stored in sumps, storage tanks, and sludge pits. Waste oil sludge was used by local farmers for dust control or buried in unlined pits and ponds. Soil and groundwater became contaminated from the improper storage and disposal of these wastes.

    In 1985, EPA removed about 1,800 cubic yards of hazardous materials from pits and seeps and 25,000 gallons of liquids from a tank on site. In 1987, EPA removed about 33,000 gallons of oil and water from another tank.

     Sites on EPA's Superfund list pose the greatest long-term threat to public health and the
environment. More information about this site can be obtained at EPA's web page at:

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