Environment & Science

San Gabriel Valley Superfund settlements yield $4 million

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Federal environmental officials have settled disputes with several companies to obtain more than $4 million for cleaning up water supplies.

About 30 square miles of the San Gabriel Valley is a federal Superfund site – a place where cancer-causing chemicals have seeped into underground water supplies. Now, somebody’s got to clean that water so it’s drinkable.

From the 1950s through the '70s, the metal plating, dry cleaning and aerospace industries frequently used chemicals including TCE and perchlorate as solvents, to do things like clean clothes and de-grease equipment. In the last 30 years, the federal Environmental Protection Agency has worked with local officials to filter and treat the groundwater under those businesses.

The deals the EPA announced don't require companies to admit that they were wrong. The fines the agency’s collected from Aerojet General, Tonks Properties and other businesses represent about 10 percent of the cost of cleaning up just the South El Monte part of the valley.

Federal regulators hope to collect about half the cleanup costs for South El Monte from the companies they blame for the pollution. The government, and taxpayers, are on the hook for the other $25 million.