Polluters to pay for Californian clean-up

Companies that sent barrels containing chemical residues to be reconditioned at a Californian factory are to pick up the bill for the clean-up of the contaminated site.

An investigation by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 showed that a cocktail of chemicals including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and lead was leaching into the soil below the Cooper Drum Company site in South Gate, California.

The site is in a mixed residential , commercial and industrial area and the contamination has affected the quality of the groundwater in the area.

This week, the EPA obtained a court order that required the two current owners of the site and 41 companies that sent steel drums to the site for reconditioning to pay for the remediation of the site.

The order stipulates the type of remediation required, saying the work must a variety of technologies including those that will take soil off-site for washing or disposal, as well as in-situ clean-up techniques.

The work will include cleansing soil and groundwater below the site as well as tackling pollution caused by contaminated water flowing away from it.

The order is the final stage of EPA involvement that began in 2001 when the site was added to the agency's Superfund list - a massive database of containted sites throughout America.

"We're requiring these parties to take action to ensure that contamination from the soil and groundwater at the site does not continue to migrate and to protect drinking water sources in the community," said Keith Takata, Superfund director of the EPA's Pacific Southwest region.

"Today's order puts the responsibility for cleaning up this site on those companies that contributed to the contamination."

David Gibbs



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