The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently reached a settlement with four companies involved in the Montrose and Del Amo Superfund sites in Torrance, California. The nearly $15 million settlement will provide for the construction of a groundwater treatment system to remediate chemicals used in the manufacture of DDT and synthetic rubber over several decades.
Once operational, the system will extract up to 700 gallons of water per minute, or a total of a million gallons each day, removing monochlorobenzene and benzene, and re-injecting the cleaned, treated water back into the aquifer. The treated water will not be served as drinking water, but will instead be re-injected to surround the contamination and prevent it from any further movement into unaffected groundwater areas. Construction of the treatment system is expected to be completed in 18 months.
Speaking about the settlement, EPA Region 9 Administrator Jared Blumenfeld said:
One of the toxic legacies of DDT and synthetic rubber manufacturing is polluted groundwater. The treatment plant will be a milestone for the site, protecting the groundwater resources for the thousands of people who live or work near these former facilities.
The four companies involved in this most recent settlement are Montrose Chemical Corporation of California, Bayer CropScience Inc., News Publishing Australia Limited, and Stauffer Management Company LLC. In addition to constructing the treatment system, these parties will also pay oversight costs incurred by EPA and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).
Montrose manufactured the pesticide DDT from 1947 until 1982. Monochlorobenzene was a raw material used in making DDT. The Montrose Superfund site was placed on the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in 1989. More information about the site may be found on EPA’s Montrose site overview page.
The Del Amo Superfund site, located adjacent to the Montrose site, was formerly a synthetic rubber manufacturing facility that used benzene, naphthalene and ethyl benzene. The Del Amo site was placed on the NPL in September of 2002. More information about the Del Amo site may be found on EPA’s site overview page. Groundwater contamination from both sites has co-mingled and will be cleaned up by this single treatment system.
The proposed consent decree for the settlement, lodged with the federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on July 9, 2012, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. A copy of the proposed decree is available on the Justice Department website here (pdf).