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Aerojet and Boeing Settle Rocket Fuel Contamination Suit

Aug 29, 2003 | AP

Two defense contractors will pay $25 million to Sacramento County to treat and deliver water for thousands of homes to settle a lawsuit over rocket fuel contamination at five wells near the former Mather Air Force Base.

Aerojet and Boeing agreed to settle the lawsuit for pollution that dates to the 1950s when they tested and developed rockets in Rancho Cordova, now a rapidly growing suburb with plans to build 22,000 homes over 30 years. Water for that project had been in doubt.

"This amount of water should more than satisfy the water replacement needs now and in the future, with water available for demands due to development," said Herb Niederberger, division chief of the county water resources department.

The agreement will give the county the right to draw 19 million to 24 million gallons of water from the American River, which equals the amount the companies pump and treat before dumping it in the river. Treatment removes contaminants that include industrial solvents and perchlorate, an oxidizer for solid rocket propellant.

Chris Conley, a vice president for Aerojet's parent company, GenCorp, said the settlement could also pave the way for a resolution with the area's largest water supplier, Southern California Water Co. The company has a lawsuit pending against GenCorp, seeking water it lost when eight wells were contaminated.

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