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Goodrich To Pay For Perchlorate Cleanup

Water Agencies To Split $4 Million

Jan 11, 2003 | Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Without admitting any liability or fault, the Goodrich Corp. reached a $4 million interim agreement with four Inland Valley water agencies to help with the cleanup of groundwater contaminated with perchlorate.

Goodrich reached the agreement with the cities of Rialto and Colton, the Fontana Water District and the West San Bernardino County Water District. The agreement extends over a 24-month period, during which time the four water agencies agree not to take enforcement action against Goodrich.

‘‘It is basically an agreement not to sue Goodrich for two years, in exchange for the $4 million,’’ said Steve Elie, an attorney for the water purveyors. ‘‘This is the first of what we hope will be many responsible parties to come forward and help us stabilize the water in the area.’’

Elie likened to situation to going after criminal enterprises.

‘‘You roll the first one and others usually follow,’’ he said. ‘‘Goodrich has agreed to help us pursue other responsible parties.’’

The chemical perchlorate is used in the manufacturing of rocket fuel, explosives and fireworks. Its discovery has led to the closure of 22 drinking water wells in the cities of Rialto and Colton, as well as the other agencies in the agreement. High levels of the substance in drinking water can impair thyroid function and is considered harmful to infants and women who are pregnant.

Goodrich was one of about 30 agencies that had been identified by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board as a party potentially responsible for the contamination of groundwater with perchlorate. The agreement is subject to final approval by the board at their meeting Friday, and the city councils of Rialto and Colton, both of which will address the matter at their respective meetings Jan. 21. Officials in Rialto are optimistic, but cautious.

‘‘I am aware of the concept of the offer,’’ said City Administrator Henry Garcia. ‘‘But I want the opportunity to review the nuts and bolts of it before we take it to the council on the 21st.’’

‘‘We are hopeful that now we won’t have to make a choice between serving the public or building the 210 freeway extension,’’ said Brad Baxter, director of public works for Rialto.

Baxter had told Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., state Sen. Nell Soto, D-Ontario, the Metropolitan Water District, and other officials at a briefing on perchlorate contamination last month that if Rialto had to choose between providing water for freeway construction dust control or providing drinking water for its citizens this summer, the city would choose the latter.

‘‘This agreement couldn’t happen at a more critical time,’’ Baxter said.

Cost for cleanup of the wells has been estimated at approximately $2 million per well.

The agreement will be instrumental to beginning the cleanup process, Soto said.

‘‘The Goodrich Corp. is to be commended for their good-faith cooperation with the task force. It will be much easier to clean up this pollution and restore the public’s water supply if all parties would cooperate as much as Goodrich,’’ Soto said.

The federal action level for perchlorate in drinking water is 4 parts per billion. Test wells recently drilled in Rialto contained as much as 350 and 820 ppb.

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