Pollution Costs Conn. Firm $27.8 Million

August 24, 2005

A Connecticut-based company that contaminated California’s San Gabriel Valley groundwater with its metal cleaning and degreasing procedures has agreed to spend $27.8 million on environmental projects and penalties in a Superfund settlement reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, officials said.

Farmington, Conn,-based Carrier Corporation, which manufactures air conditioning and heating units, and its parent company, United Technologies Corp., will spend about $26.5 million to build a groundwater cleanup system that will include the installation of wells to pump out contaminated water and prevent its migration.

They also will build a treatment plant, or series of treatment plants, to remove contaminants from the groundwater, EPA officials said in a statement.

The firms also will spend $468,750 on an environmental project at a former duck farm that overlaps the contamination area.

The terms of the consent decree lodged Aug. 17 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles also calls for the companies to reimburse the EPA for the $800,000 it has spent on costs and to pay a $125,000 civil penalty for failing to comply with an EPA cleanup order.

“This settlement requires the cleanup of the shallow groundwater at the Puente Valley Operable Unit Superfund Site, which is an important step toward restoring this valuable drinking water source,” said Keith Takata, director of the regional Superfund program office. “The supplemental environmental project will benefit the area’s families and wildlife.”

The duck farm was bought by the Trust for Public Land in 2001 and sold in 2004 to the Watershed Conservation Authority. The authority works to improve open space for the conservation and restoration in the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers Watershed area.

The EPA listed several sections of the San Gabriel Valley as Superfund sites in 1984.

The contaminated groundwater associated with all of the San Gabriel Valley cites lies under major portions of Alhambra, Irwindale, La Puente, Rosemead, Azusa, El Monte, West Covina and other areas.

Forty-five water suppliers use the San Gabriel Basin groundwater aquifer to provide 90 percent of the drinking water for more than 1 million people in the region.

A dozen different firms in 2003 agreed to reimburse the federal government $10 for cleaning up contaminated groundwater under the same Superfund site.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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