Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Federal environmental regulators announced that 66 companies will collectively spend about $78 million to clean up contaminated groundwater at the Omega Chemical Corp. Superfund site in Whittier.

The settlement requires the companies to spend $70 million to install wells and operate a groundwater treatment system in the area. In addition, the parties will reimburse the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $8 million and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control $70,000 toward costs incurred in those agencies’ past cleanup actions at the site.

“Today’s settlement ensures the protection of a vital drinking water source for L.A. County,” said Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region Wednesday. “The clean-up of this polluted aquifer is critical because groundwater in the region has been depleted because of the drought.”

The former Omega Chemical facility operated from about 1976 to 1991 and was located at 12504 and 12512 Whittier Blvd., across the street from a residential neighborhood and within one mile of several schools. It handled drums and bulk loads of industrial waste solvents and chemicals that were processed to form commercial products.

Subsurface soil and groundwater in the area have high concentrations of trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, Freons and other contaminants. Drinking high levels of TCE and PCE for extended periods of time could cause damage to the nervous system, liver and lungs and increase risk of cancer, according to the government.     The Omega site was placed on Superfund’s National Priorities List in 1999 and extends from Whittier through Santa Fe Springs and into Norwalk.

“We are pleased that the settling parties have come forward to do the work of cleaning up the groundwater contamination to which they and others contributed,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“This settlement makes excellent progress in cleaning up the Omega site and will also put additional systems in place to monitor and evaluate the level of contamination in order to guide future work,” Cruden said.

— Wire reports

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