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U.S. EPA and California DTSC Give Green Light for Ballpark in West Covina

Release Date: 5/28/2003
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, along with the U.S Department of Justice and California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, announced today that they have entered into two prospective purchaser agreements with the city of West Covina, Calif. for parts of the former BKK Landfill site.

This is the first prospective purchaser agreement in the U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region for a federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) site and the fourth nationwide.

The agreements -- each of which includes a covenant not to sue the city -- will encourage reuse of the land the city plans to purchase from the BKK Corp. The city may sell a part of the land for commercial development, as well as develop part of it for a planned Big League Dreams sports complex and a municipal golf course without incurring the environmental liability as an owner for past contamination.

The agreements do not relieve BKK, the owner and operator of the landfills, from liability.

Separate from the prospective purchaser agreement, the city’s redevelopment agency and BKK have entered into an agreement of purchase and sale for the transfer to the city of approximately 158 acres of land along the north and west sides of the now defunct landfills, located on South Azusa Avenue. Under this agreement, the purchase price for the land is $6.242 million. The agreements associated with the transfer assure that all net proceeds from the sale will be used for clean up activities at the site.

'This agreement cuts to the heart of what the U.S. EPA’s innovative clean up projects strive to do -- speed the return of property to the community for productive reuse," said Wayne Nastri, regional administrator of the EPA’s San Francisco office. "But it wasn’t the U.S. acting alone. We could not have reached this point without a partnership with the state, the citizens and elected officials of West Covina, and BKK itself."

"These prospective purchaser agreements demonstrate that federal, state and local entities can work together to restore economic vitality to underused properties and ensure protection of public health and the environment," said Ed Lowry, director of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control.

After closing costs and a debts secured by the land are paid, BKK stands to net roughly $2.8 million from the sale.

Under a separate agreement, approximately $2.38 million of the net sale proceeds will go into an account to be used by BKK to conduct environmental work at the BKK Landfill site. BKK will use the remaining $420,000 of the net sale proceeds to conduct the monitoring required by the U.S. EPA and the California DTSC at the Big League Dreams sports park development. BKK will monitor soil, soil vapors, indoor air and ambient air in a portion of the land the city is purchasing along the west side of the landfill.

The entire landfill encompasses 583 acres. From 1972 to December 1984, approximately 190 acres of that was operated as an unlined hazardous waste landfill; from 1987 to September 1996, BKK operated a lined solid waste landfill on another 170 acres at the property.

Between 1972 and 1984, 3.4 million tons of liquid and solid hazardous wastes were disposed at the landfill. During the 1980s, a series of investigations found groundwater contamination both on and off the BKK property. A March 31, 1989, the EPA order required BKK to investigate the nature and extent of groundwater contamination and evaluate cleanup alternatives.

Studies showed that contaminated groundwater had moved under nearby residential neighborhoods and contained mainly volatile organic compounds. A Sept. 14, 2000 U.S. EPA order being implemented by BKK requires it to clean up the contaminated groundwater.