Lockheed to Pay Most of Burbank Water Cleanup Cost
Lockheed has agreed to pay nearly all of the estimated $86 million it will cost to clean up Burbank’s contaminated ground water under the federal Superfund program, Lockheed and city officials said Tuesday.
The aircraft firm will pay $80 million to help build and operate a plant that will extract and treat 12,000 gallons per minute of contaminated ground water, they said. The city of Burbank will then treat the discharge at the same plant and feed it into the city’s drinking-water supply, according to a negotiated consent decree agreement.
Burbank will pay $2.5 million to build and operate the plant, and Weber Aircraft, another potential contributor to ground-water contamination, will put up the remaining $3.75 million, city officials said.
The pact, which was approved Tuesday night by the Burbank City Council, is still subject to approval and signing by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U. S. Justice Department. The federal review process is expected to last up to four months, city officials said.
The proposed site of the extraction and treatment plant is on city-owned land at 2030 N. Hollywood Way.
The agreement between Burbank, Lockheed and Weber, reached earlier this month after two years of negotiations, is one of the most significant steps in the plan to clean up chemical contamination that has shut down seven of Burbank’s 10 municipal water wells, city officials said.
The city, which otherwise could supply its own water needs, purchases all its water from the Metropolitan Water District.
Lockheed, Burbank and Weber have been named by the EPA’s Superfund program as “potentially responsible” for polluting ground water with the chemical solvents perchloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE), both thought to increase the risk of cancer if consumed in drinking water over many years.
Lockheed had offered in 1989 to pay $52 million toward the Superfund cleanup. But Lockheed spokesman Scott Hallman said Tuesday that the firm decided during negotiations that it would pay $10 million during each year of the agreement for joint operation of the plant, which is slated to last about eight years.
Assistant City Atty. Carolyn A. Barnes said it still had not been determined whether any of the 29 to 34 other companies also designated by the EPA as “potentially responsible” will be required to contribute to the cleanup.
“The EPA can choose to go after them and sue them in order to get them to contribute, or Lockheed can go after them to recoup some of their costs,” Barnes said.
A vast area of the San Fernando Valley, stretching from North Hollywood east into the Verdugo Mountains, has been designated for Superfund cleanup due to solvent pollution of ground water.
The Superfund program targets the nation’s worst toxic waste sites for cleanup by those responsible or by the EPA if the polluters cannot be found.