Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Critics Say Groundwater Cleanup Taking Too Long (Daily Bulletin 08222006)

I Imagine that it is hard to clean that stuff out of the groundwater, however not being an expert on the subject I can only go by what It says here in the Newspaper, and this tells me that it is taking much to long. They have 40 people or industries on the hook in courts for the Contamination being in the Rialto Water, and I was not aware that it was effecting Fontana, San Bernardino, and Colton. I thought it was just in Rialto. And the fact that it is effecting 22 Wells in Rialto is another shock to this writer, so I think they have been dragging their feet on this Issue and they need to do something fast!! It has been going on for a long time, but they only have been admitting the problem here lately, probably because of the new testing that they must report to the public. That is a great thing!!
Remember Do not drink Rialto's Tap Water!!
Critics Say Groundwater Cleanup Taking too long.
By Andrew Silva, Daily Bulletin Writer

The cleanup of contaminated groundwater in Rialto, Colton and Fontana has been moving too slowly, critics contended during a state Senate hearing Monday.

However, they stopped short of demanding that three members of the board overseeing the issue lose their seats.

"This is dragging on 10 years," local activist Penny Newman told the Senate Rules Committee. "The cost is being passed by the city of Rialto to its ratepayers."

Newman is executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, which has been involved in environmental issues in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

The issue landed in front of the committee after Sen. Nell Soto, D-Pomona, demanded Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's three appointees to the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board appear in person because she is frustrated with how the board had addressed the issue. The appointments are usually routine and don't require hearings.

Perchlorate, a rocket fuel ingredient also used in flares, fireworks and other products, has seeped into the soil from north Rialto, where defense related businesses and fireworks companies have operated for more than five decades.

The chemical has contaminated 22 wells serving Rialto, Colton and Fontana, though at least nine of them now have treatment equipment in place that scrubs the perchlorate from the water.

Carole Beswick, a former mayor of Redlands and now chairwoman of the Santa Ana board, defended the board's actions as it has sought a way to clean up the mess.

Perchlorate is a top priority of the board, which has been conducting a long-running investigation to determine the extent of the problem and who is responsible, she said.

The board issued a cleanup and abatement order against B.F. Goodrich Corp. in 2002 but rescinded the order after the company agreed to pay $4 million to begin treating contaminated water.

That deal expires in October and the board could reissue the order at that time.

Sen. Gibert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, asked why the board rescinded the order instead of continuing to pursue Goodrich.

Beswick argued Goodrich and the other suspected polluter, a corporate relative of Black and Decker, were aggressively fighting the orders, and it was almost certain to wind up in court.

The board was interested in protecting the water as quickly as possible, and the deal allowed the cities to start installing wellhead treatments right away, she said.

"I'm very disturbed by this," Cedillo said. "You can't buy yourself out of a deal."

Beswick countered that it seemed the best course of action at the time to get water cleaned quickly.

Rialto is suing about 40 potentially responsible parties to recover the cost of treating and replacing water and attorneys working with Rialto said the matter is very complex and is made even more difficult because the suspected polluters are fighting so hard.

Activists said they met with Beswick last week and received assurances she is committed to the cleanup and forcing the polluters to pay.

"We will give this board another chance," said Sujatha Jahagirdar, of Environment California.

The board is already three members short, and without the current board members, the body wouldn't have a quorum.

The other appointees are Mary Cramer, of Anaheim, and Deborah Neev, of Laguna Beach.

At the end of the hearing the rules committee voted unanimously to recommend confirmation by the senate.

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