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EPA Orders Two Companies to Investigate Rialto-Colton Area Perchlorate Contamination

Release Date: 7/15/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO -- Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ordered Emhart Industries, Inc., and the Goodrich Corporation to conduct testing to determine if they are sources of perchlorate contamination in the area's groundwater.  

     The two companies used materials containing potassium perchlorate, ammonium perchlorate and other hazardous substances within a 160-acre industrial area at the north end of the city of Rialto.  

"We need all industries who used perchlorate to take a hard look at their spill and disposal histories," said Wayne Nastri, the EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "Everyone in the area has been impacted by these well closures and it is crucial to find the source and remove it to ensure safe drinking water for these communities."

     The site is located in the Rialto-Colton Groundwater Basin, a source of drinking water to tens of thousands of San Bernardino County residents.  Groundwater immediately down gradient from the site is contaminated with perchlorate and trichloroethylene (TCE).  The contamination has forced the closure of numerous public drinking water supply wells and caused hardships for Rialto, Colton and neighboring areas dependent on the basin for their drinking water.

      Groundwater contamination in the Rialto-Colton Basin was discovered in 1997.  The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board is also identifying and investigating the sources of contamination. The EPA and the State are working together and will continue to coordinate efforts in the area until the sources can be determined and plans made to clean it up. The EPA will increase its role if warranted, but today's order is targeted to businesses within the 160-acre site.

     Earlier this year, Goodrich provided $4 million to help the four affected water utilities respond to the groundwater contamination and install water treatment systems.    

     Emhart Industries, a subsidiary of Black & Decker, used the site to produce photoflash flares and other munitions, and Goodrich used the site to test and produce rocket motors.  The companies and their corporate predecessors operated manufacturing facilities at the site in the 1950s and 1960s.

     The order provides requires the companies to notify the EPA with their intent to comply within ten days.

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