LA MIRADA : Chevron Unit Settles in Contamination Case

Chevron Pipeline Co., one of two companies accused in a federal lawsuit of contaminating soil beneath the La Mirada Auto Center, has agreed to pay the city $95,000.

The site, purchased in the mid-1980s by the city's Redevelopment Agency for construction of the auto mall, was contaminated with gasoline and tetrachloroethylene (TCE), a toxic degreasing agent, said John Di Mario, a city redevelopment officer.

A Chevron pipeline beneath the property may have transported TCE or have been treated with the substance, Di Mario said. Chevron was not linked to the gasoline contamination, he said.

Jean A. Martin, Chevron's attorney, said there is no direct evidence showing that the company ever transported TCE or used it to treat the pipeline. Martin would not comment on why the company settled.

The primary defendant in the lawsuit by the city's Redevelopment Agency is BET Plant Services, a British equipment rental company that occupied the site. The suit, which seeks $700,000 damages, is scheduled for trial in June.

Tom Clarke, an attorney representing BET, said the company is not responsible for the contamination. "I know for a fact that we didn't cause (the contamination) and will save for later any theories we might have," he said.

The city has spent $1.3 million on the cleanup and legal fees, Di Mario said. A Volvo and Chrysler-Plymouth dealer now occupies the site on Firestone Boulevard near the Santa Ana (5) Freeway.

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