Lockheed Martin has agreed to expand its cleanup efforts of contaminated groundwater in the San Fernando Basin as part of a settlement agreement reached with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Under the agreement, Lockheed Martin will treat and transfer 1.5 billion gallons of drinking water to the utility, saving ratepayers what officials estimate will be more than $170 million over the next 30 years. The utility says that’s enough water for 56,000 people a year.
“When companies contaminate our water, they ought to be the ones paying to clean it up,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “This historic settlement agreement will help clean millions of gallons of groundwater in the San Fernando Basin, and expand local supplies for years to come.”
For decades dating from the 1920s, Lockheed Martin manufactured and tested aircraft and other industrial equipment in Burbank, contaminating the groundwater there and in the eastern area of North Hollywood.
As part of the settlement, Lockheed Martin will build a system to transfer the contaminated groundwater from North Hollywood to the treatment plant in Burbank, which is not being used to capacity. Lockheed Martin also agreed to pay the utility $20 million over several years.
Utility officials say the groundwater is contaminated by volatile organic compounds that the EPA says can cause headaches and nausea, as well as liver and kidney damage.
Once it’s safe to drink, the water will be transferred back to the utility. The settlement says the project will start by 2021.
“This is an indefinite agreement until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declares that the area is clean,” said Paul Liu, the utility’s water resources division manager.
Kevin Pearson, director of Lockheed Martin’s environmental remediation program, said in a statement that the company has worked with the EPA for more than 20 years on effective cleanup measures.