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U.S. EPA issues study order for Superfund site in Whittier

Release Date: 1/13/2004
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 452-3378

     LOS ANGELES   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ordering 20 businesses that shipped waste to the Omega Superfund Site in Whittier, Calif. to investigate the extent of pollution at the site.

     From 1976 to 1991, the Omega Chemical Corp. and Refrigerant Reclamation Co. operated a used solvent and refrigerant recycling and reformulation treatment facility at 12504 and 12512 East Whittier Blvd.  The company primarily handled chemicals used in refrigerator and freezer coils, as well as chlorinated solvents that included degreasing and dry-cleaning chemicals.

     The businesses receiving the order known as major generator parties each sent more than 10 tons of hazardous substances to the Omega site for disposal while the company was in business. These companies were first told they may be liable for part of the cost of studying and cleaning up the pollution in 1995.

     Initially, these companies were part of a larger group of major generators that stepped forward to negotiate a settlement with the EPA and perform work at the site.  However, before the work agreement was completed and signed in February 2001, the 20 companies withdrew from the negotiations and therefore have not been participating in the current work being performed at the site.

     Work that has been completed under the Feb. 23, 2001 agreement includes field activities to help determine the extent of the soil and groundwater contamination at the Omega site.

     The work required under this order includes installation and sampling of groundwater monitoring wells downgradient from the Site and tests to determine the size of the contaminated groundwater plume, the speed and direction of plume migration and the levels of contamination.    
     "The EPA believes that the strategy we are employing at Omega fosters fair settlements with all waste contributors now and in the future," said Keith Takata, Superfund division director in the EPA's Pacific Southwest region.  "This is an important step for the Omega site cleanup, and we look forward to securing settlements and making further progress toward a full site cleanup."
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