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Release Date: 10/7/1997
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415)744-1588

           U.S. EPA Negotiates Final Hurdle Before Cleanup Can be Completed

     (San Francisco) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S.EPA) today announced that negotiations have begun for the final stage of cleanup at the Operating Industries, Inc. (OII) Landfill Superfund site in Monterey Park, Calif. A letter has been sent to 270 major responsible parties inviting them to submit a good-faith offer to complete cleanup of the site and to pay past costs for money already spent to clean up the site.  

     The purpose of negotiations will be to flesh out details of a plan  written to guide the final phase of the cleanup. The plan will include control of contaminated groundwater at the perimeter of the landfill and monitoring of groundwater beyond the perimeter. Also at issue are the long-term operation and maintenance of systems for leachate control and treatment, landfill gas control, landfill cover and other site systems.

     The estimated cost of the remaining cleanup is $289 million including cleanup work, past costs, and future EPA response and oversight costs. About $72 million from a prior settlement is currently being held in an escrow account. EPA has offered to forgive $15 million in past costs as orphan share compensation to settling parties that agree to perform the cleanup. Orphan share parties are those which are insolvent or defunct.

     When completed, the OII cleanup will prevent the release of harmful contaminants from the landfill. Cleanup at the site began in 1986. A leachate treatment system has been constructed and a landfill gas collection and treatment system is under construction. The final remaining system will control the spread of contamination in the groundwater basin.

     "This is a milestone for one of the largest Superfund sites on the west coast," according to Keith Takata, U.S. EPA's Superfund director. "We look forward to finishing the final stage of construction and making sure the chemical wastes from this landfill no longer pose a threat to current or future groundwater supplies."  

     OII is a 190-acre former landfill in Monterey Park, California, about ten miles east of downtown Los Angeles. During operations from 1948 to 1984, the site accepted municipal, commercial and industrial wastes, including at least 300 million gallons of hazardous waste. Total site costs, including prior operable units, exceed $500 million. EPA has entered into six consent decrees and issued two unilateral orders and one consent order for the site.