U.S. EPA Reaches Settlement to Clean Up Groundwater Contamination at Southern California Superfund Site

By on May 31, 2020

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a $6,521,025 settlement with 145 parties to clean up contaminated groundwater at the Omega Chemical Corporation Superfund Site in Whittier, California.

“We are pleased that this settlement will help address the groundwater contamination to which these companies and others have contributed,”said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator John Busterud. Ensuring the protection of a vital drinking water source for LA County is one of the priorities in getting this site cleaned up.”

This latest EPA settlement, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period, has been concluded with parties that each sent one to three tons of waste to the Omega Chemical Corporation site. This Superfund site was formerly the location of a recycling company and is marked by extensive soil and groundwater contamination. The settlement is expected to provide funding for cleanup activities at the site and for the approximately four miles of contaminated groundwater that extends beyond the property line and reaches the cities of Whittier, Santa Fe Springs and Norwalk, California.

As of April 2019, EPA had incurred more than $42 million in costs since 1999 for cleaning up the site. EPA has recovered more than $27 million from potentially responsible parties through a series of settlement agreements.

The Omega Chemical Corporation was a refrigerant and solvent recycling facility, located at 12504 and 12512 East Whittier Blvd., that operated between 1976 and 1991. It handled drums and bulk loads of industrial waste solvents and chemicals that were processed to form commercial products. Subsurface soil and groundwater at and around the site have high concentrations of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), Freons and other contaminants. Consumption of high levels of TCE and PCE for extended periods of time can cause damage to the nervous system, liver and lungs and increase risk of cancer.

The Omega location became a Superfund site in 1999, when it was added to the Superfund National Priorities List. Since that time EPA has overseen the removal of more than 2,700 drums as well as more than 12,500 pounds of contaminants from the soil and groundwater. This effort has included treatment of more than 30 million gallons of contaminated groundwater since 2009. In addition, since 2010 a soil vapor extraction system has operated to address potentially harmful vapor intrusion from the Omega Site.

The settlement being announced today is subject to a 30-day comment period before becoming final. For more information and to submit comments visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/05/20/2020-10836/notice-of-proposed-administrative-settlement-agreement-and-order-on-consent-with-de-minimis-parties

For more information on this Superfund site, please visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/omegachemical