The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced the U.S. has entered into two settlements totaling more than $50 million to clean up contamination from the B.F. Goodrich Superfund Site northwest of Rialto Municipal Airport.
"Most or all of the Site is located in the Rialto-Colton Groundwater Basin in western San Bernardino County," the EPA's overview for the Goodrich Superfund Site states. "The Basin is an important source of drinking water to residents and businesses in the cities of Rialto, Colton, and Fontana."
A 160-acre area that is a focus of the Goodrich Superfund Site is about 15 miles northwest of Loma Linda University Medical Center and 20 miles northwest of downtown Redlands.
There are a dozen parties involved in the settlements, including Emhart Industries, Pyro Spectaculars, Inc., the Department of Defense, the cities of Rialto and Colton, and the County of San Bernardino, an EPA news release stated Wednesday.
Representatives of those involved in the settlements were not available to comment for this report.
The Superfund site has been used to store, test and manufacture fireworks, munitions, rocket motors, and pyrotechnics, and it was added to the EPA's National Priorities List in September 2009, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
"The area's groundwater is contaminated with trichloroethylene and perchlorate, which have resulted in the closure of public drinking water supply wells in the communities of Rialto and Colton," the EPA news release stated.
The B.F. Goodrich Site includes a 160-acre area in Rialto, where volatile organic compounds and perchlorate have contaminated soil and groundwater, the EPA's overview for the Goodrich Superfund Site states.
The 160 acres are bounded by West Casa Grande Drive on the north, Locust Avenue on the east, Alder Avenue on the west, and an extension of Summit Avenue on the south, according to the EPA.
The 160 acres were part of a larger area acquired by the United States Army in 1942, to develop an inspection, consolidation, and storage facility for rail cars transporting ordnance to the Port of Los Angeles, according to the EPA.
The United States sold the Rialto property in 1946, and a portion of the property was used by defense contractors, fireworks manufacturers, and other businesses that used perchlorate salts and/or solvents in manufacturing processes or products, according to the EPA.
In 1956 and 1957, West Coast Loading Corporation manufactured and tested photoflash flares and ground-burst simulators containing potassium perchlorate, according to the EPA.
From about 1957 to 1962, B.F. Goodrich Corporation conducted research, development, testing, and production of solid-fuel rocket propellant containing ammonium perchlorate, and used solvents in the manufacturing process, according to the EPA.
Since the 1960s, the 160-acre area has been used by a number of companies that manufactured or sold pyrotechnics, including Pyrotronics, Pyro Spectaculars, and American Promotional Events, according to the EPA.
"After decades of harmful groundwater contamination and following protracted and costly litigation, the parties responsible for releases of TCE and perchlorate at the BF Goodrich Superfund Site have agreed to a comprehensive long-term plan to cleanup the contaminated groundwater at the Site," Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Department of Justice, said in a prepared statement.
"The commitment made under the consent decrees announced today will provide immeasurable benefits to the environment and the communities who live in Rialto and Colton, California," Moreno said.
Under one agreement, Emhart will perform the first portion of the cleanup, which is estimated to cost $43 million over the next 30 years to design, build, and operate groundwater wells, treatment systems, and other equipment needed to clean up the contaminated groundwater at the site, according to the EPA.
A significant portion of the funds will come from other settling parties, including the Department of Defense, according to the EPA.
The cities of Rialto and Colton will receive $8 million.
According to the EPA, the Emhart settlement includes the following entities: Emhart Industries, Inc., Black & Decker Inc., American Promotional Events, Inc., the Department of Defense, the Ensign-Bickford Company, Raytheon, Whittaker Corporation, Broco, Inc., and J. S. Brower & Associates, Inc. and related companies, as well as the cities of Rialto and Colton and the County of San Bernardino.
As part of a second agreement, six entities, including PSI and its former subsidiary, will pay a combined $4.3 million to the EPA toward cleanup at the site and $1.3 million to the cities of Rialto and Colton and San Bernardino County, according to the EPA. The entities involved in this settlement are Pyro Spectaculars Inc.; Astro Pyrotechnics; Trojan Fireworks; Thomas O. Peters and related trusts; and Stonehurst Site, LLC.
"For decades, the defendants have been polluting this critical source of drinking water with both perchlorate and industrial solvents," Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA's Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in prepared remarks. "Today's historic settlement ensures that the impacted communities in Southern California will finally have their drinking water sources restored."
Scientists with the EPA used government funds to pay for investigation and cleanup work at the site while investigating potentially responsible parties for their role in the contamination, according to the EPA.
The United States, on behalf of the EPA, sued Emhart and PSI, as well as the Goodrich Corporation, the estate of Harry Hescox and its representative, Wong Chung Ming, Ken Thompson, Inc., and Rialto Concrete Products, in 2010 and 2011 to require cleanup and recover federal money spent at the site, according to the EPA.
Prior to the EPA's lawsuit, the cities of Rialto and Colton initiated litigation against many of the settling parties, including the Department of Defense, in 2004.
For more information on the B.F. Goodrich Site visit www.epa.gov/region09/bfgoodrich.