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U.S. EPA enters consent decree at Stringfellow Superfund Site $1.7 million reimbursed for costs of response to restore clean water in Riverside County

Release Date: 3/23/2004
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 452-3378

LOS ANGELES -- As part of a recent settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Pyrite Group will pay $1.65 million have been held in escrow pending dispute resolution for past costs associated with the Stringfellow Acid Pits Superfund Site in Riverside County, Calif.

he dispute involved whether the EPA was entitled to recover costs for overseeing cleanup planning and construction at the former hazardous waste disposal facility near Glen Avon. EPA officials will use the $1.65 million to reimburse the "Superfund," which will use the funds for response work at other sites across the country.

The payment resolves the last pending issue between the EPA and the Pyrite Canyon Group, and clears the way for the court to dismiss the 20-year litigation between both parties.

Because in 1995 the court allocated responsibility for the Stringfellow Site to the state of California, the state will continue the treatment programs for the site through its Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The Pyrite Canyon Group will have contributed approximately $80 million to the response. California resolved its litigation against the Pyrite Canyon Group almost two years ago.

"These private parties have made a significant contribution toward the restoration of the Stringfellow Site" said Keith Takata, director of the EPA's Superfund program in San Francisco. "Now that California is taking responsibility for this site, we can end litigation and use this funding to allow us to continue cleaning up one of the state's most notorious hazardous waste sites."

Between 1956 and 1972, the 17-acre site operated as a hazardous waste disposal facility for companies and government agencies in southern California. More than 34 million gallons of industrial waste primarily from metal finishing, electroplating, and pesticide production were disposed in evaporation ponds. Waste substances included sulfuric acids, heavy metal solutions, and organics such as DDT and TCE.

Over the years, heavy rainfall periodically caused the disposal ponds to overflow and contaminate nearby Pyrite Creek. Also, the area's fractured bedrock allowed contaminants to enter into the Chino III groundwater aquifer, a source of drinking water to local residents. The aquifer is now contaminated with volatile organic compounds and heavy metals such as cadmium, nickel, chromium and manganese.

Contamination has reached such levels that since 1989, the community of Glen Avon has received water from public utilities to avoid continued threats from the use of private groundwater wells.

The EPA began its involvement with the Stringfellow Site in 1982. Since then, the EPA has required the disposal of waste materials, the construction of stormwater and erosion controls, and localized groundwater pumping and treatment in an effort to overcome groundwater contamination.