Northrup Faces Suit Over Toxics

Alleging widespread chemical contamination at the site, a Japanese developer is suing Northrop Corp. over its purchase of a former Northrop defense plant in Anaheim.

Taiyo Investments USA Inc., a Japanese-owned developer based in Torrance, filed suit in Orange County Superior Court in Santa Ana this week, asking $1 million in damages. The complaint alleges that the 53-acre site is polluted.

In 1989, Northrop closed the plant and moved its employees to one in Hawthorne as part of a corporate consolidation. The facility once employed 2,000 people who made guidance systems for the MX missile.

Taiyo agreed to buy the property on Orangethorpe Avenue in November, 1989, for $39 million.

Taiyo alleged in the suit that Northrop did not allow its engineers to conduct a full environmental review of the site. It also said that Northrop hid a June, 1989, study that revealed extensive contamination.

"The lawsuit is pure nonsense," said Ron Owens, a Northrop spokesman. He said that Taiyo's own consultants inspected the site on three occasions and their findings showed no contamination.

He also said the Taiyo suit was a countersuit to one that Northrop filed against Taiyo in May. That suit claims Taiyo failed to complete its purchase of the property, which Northrop still controls.

Taiyo attorney Robert Palmer declined comment.

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