Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rialto Area Water District Quits Perchlorate Suit (Press Enterprise 10-02-07)

BS Ranch Perspective:

The contest about this water situation is just what the Butch said regarding West San Bernardino Water District when they dropped out of the law suit and that was this, This whole situation occurred at a time when there was no Environmental Protection Agency that looked to Ground Water protection, and it was perfectly Legal to dispose of Perchlorate by spilling it into the ground, and to go back and impose a penalty for something that was legal at the time when it was done, is a little crazy, the thing is that it needs to be Cleaned up, and the Environmental Protection Agency should be the one that has their hands fully extended into the ground and helping to solve the clean up of the chemical from the grounds in the North end of Rialto, After all with the Land Fill up there in the north end there has to be some contamination coming from that place that effects the Water Table as well to some certain degree!!

To Me this whole law suit is just the Lawyers that are there to make money off the smaller Cities, and Taxpayers, and when they are talking about $23MILLION, that is just plane insane, because you know or have to know that all of that money isn't needed to to clean up all the water, I BET that less then half is needed, the other half lines the pockets of the litigators, in this case!!!

BS Ranch

Black & Decker Accuses Rialto Of Mismanaging Perchlorate Probe Print E-mail
Thursday, 27 September 2007

By Chris Levister

In a full page letter published in the San Bernardino Sun, Black & Decker denies the company had anything to do with the massive perchlorate contamination of drinking water wells on a 160-acre site in Rialto's north end. 

The company accuses the Regional Water Board and the City of Rialto of mismanaging the issue from the outset, and said the City of Rialto "has charged its citizens for the mismanagement."

"As citizens you deserve the whole story ...not just the parts that certain bureaucrats and self appointed "community activists" want you to hear."

Black & Decker identified along with B.F. Goodrich and PyroSpectacular are accused of contaminating 22 wells serving Rialto, Fontana and Colton. The company says it has spent $2.3 million on a voluntary investigation of the sources of contamination on the site.

In the letter Black & Decker said the only confirmed source of contamination at the site is a waste disposal pit called the McLaughlin Pit. The company claims city officials and the Regional Water Board agreed that Black & Decker has no connection to the McLaughlin Pit or the contamination it is causing.

"Nevertheless, officials at the Regional Water Board have refused to consider sound science and instead pursued a faulty legal strategy to avoid blame and target so-called "deep pockets."

The letter stated Black & Decker supports a comprehensive strategy to address the contamination but, " is time for the Regional Water Board and the City of Rialto to admit that a strategy based on faulty science and hasty decisions is doing nothing to improve water quality and is only padding the pockets of trial attorneys and high-priced consultants."

Rialto officials would not comment on the published letter. In an effort to get the accused parties to pay for cleanup Rialto filed a lawsuit in 2004 naming as defendants the County of San Bernardino, the Department of Defense and 40 corporations that used the chemical during the 1950s and 60s for rocket fuel and fireworks.

City officials are seeking $23 million in emergency funds from the state because of contamination in the drinking water. The contamination is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to clean up.

Black & Decker along with Goodrich and PyroSpectacular were the subject of a community protest last month in which company officials were called "environmental terrorists" and labeled "public enemy #1." 

Rialto officials call ad 'inaccurate,' 'deceptive'

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10:04 AM PDT on Friday, September 28, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

Two Rialto City Council members criticized Black & Decker for taking out a full-page newspaper ad this week, in which the company denied responsibility for contaminating the local drinking-water supply with perchlorate.

The advertisement, which ran Monday in The Press-Enterprise, was titled "An open letter to the Rialto community." Black & Decker, headquartered in Maryland, manufactures tools and home appliances.

The city contends that a Black & Decker subsidiary, Emhart Industries, was one of many companies that operated on the Rialto land fouled by perchlorate, an explosive chemical used in rocket fuel and fireworks.

Councilman Ed Scott and Councilwoman Winnie Hanson sent a letter Wednesday on Rialto city stationery to Nolan Archibald, the company's president and CEO, criticizing the ad as "inaccurate" and "deceptive."

"We have a number of eyewitnesses who worked at the 160-acre site and will testify to Emhart-Black & Decker's disposal of perchlorate at the industrial site," the council members' letter says. "We are prepared to place our case before the State Water Board. Why is Black & Decker afraid to make its case?"

Each month, their letter says, "360 million gallons ... of fresh water are being contaminated by the plume of perchlorate as it moves like a slow-moving grass fire across the Rialto-Colton Groundwater Basin. The day your ad ran, the plume moved about 20 inches and cost our community about 12 million gallons of fresh water."

The advertisement, meanwhile, says that Black & Decker has spent $2.3 million on "a voluntary investigation of the sources of perchlorate contamination" on the land north of Highway 210.

"The pollution at issue has nothing to do with any Black & Decker operations or products," the company's ad states. "The only confirmed source of perchlorate contamination on the 160-acre site is a waste disposal pit called the McLaughlin Pit. Everyone agrees that Black & Decker has no connection to the McLaughlin Pit or the contamination it is causing."

Pyro Spectaculars, a fireworks company, still operates at the site.

Reach Mary Bender at 909-806-3056 or

Rialto, Colton residents rally against perchlorate

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12:11 AM PDT on Thursday, June 28, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

Survey: Are government agencies moving quickly enough to get perchlorate contamination cleaned up?

Chants of "si se puede," "it can be done," echoed through the San Bernardino County Auditorium where about 200 Rialto and Colton residents expecting to see a farmworker labor leader gathered to demand those responsible for contaminating the area with perchlorate pay to eradicate the chemical

Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers of America with Cesar Chavez more than four decades ago, was unable to attend, but sent a representative who called for residents to consider boycotting the companies accused by Rialto of polluting the groundwater.

The companies include Goodrich Corp., Black & Decker and Pyro Spectaculars, which produces fireworks.

Perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel and fireworks, has contaminated six Rialto water wells.

It is believed the chemical interferes with thyroid function and brain development. Human fetuses and newborns are considered most at risk.

Huerta has spoken out against pesticides that threatened farmworkers and the environment and helped organize a grape boycott in 1967 that resulted in the California table grape industry signing a three-year collective bargaining agreement with the United Farm Workers.

"You have very visible targets with Goodrich, Black & Decker and Pyro Spectaculars for a boycott," Jim Rodriquez, representing Huerta and the Dolores Huerta Foundation, said.

"They have the money, but we have the people and you have the support of Dolores Huerta and the foundation."

Going after the pocketbook and public image of organizations accused of polluting the water will frighten them, Rodriquez said.

"Whatever you need from us, let us know because we are here with you," he said.

Members of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, who organized the meeting, are calling for residents to attend a second meeting July 12 where action plans will be reviewed.

"We want to analyze what our next step is, whether it be a boycott or going to legislators and demanding they step in," said Penny Newman, executive director of the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice.

Rialto's cleanup strategy relies on lawsuits filed against San Bernardino County and 41 other agencies and companies accused of contributing to the perchlorate contamination. Cleanup efforts for the Rialto/Colton water basin are estimated to cost $200 million to $300 million, City Attorney Bob Owen has said.

Rialto residents are charged a $6.85 fee for perchlorate cleanup on their water bills. An additional charge is assessed based on consumption.

Rialto adopted a zero tolerance for perchlorate in 2005, which guarantees no water with detectable levels of the chemical will be served to residents, said Mayor Grace Vargas.

Several residents spoke out on the surcharge and demanded those responsible for polluting the water pay to clean it.

"I'm paying a lot of money each month while the polluters only make money," Carmen Navarro, who has lived in Rialto 17 years, said in Spanish. "I want them to pay now."

Vargas said residents will be reimbursed once cleanup funding is made available.

"It took 50 years for perchlorate to surface and be detected, and it'll probably take another 50 years to clean it up, but, in the meantime, we will do everything in our power to make sure the people responsible for the pollution pay," she said.

Reach Massiel Ladron De Guevara at 909-806-3054 or

Rialto-area water district quits perchlorate suit

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10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, October 2, 2007
The Press-Enterprise

West Valley Water District in Rialto dropped out of a costly federal lawsuit aimed at finding those responsible for perchlorate contamination that has polluted its drinking water wells.

The costs became too much, around $2.5 million in attorneys fees, to continue with the lawsuit filed about two years ago, said Anthony "Butch" Araiza, the agency's general manager, Tuesday.

"We were just afraid we'd still be in the same quagmire, and we'd end up spending $25 million trying to prove what the government really needs to do," Araiza said.

He said he hopes that state and federal regulators will successfully pursue action against the culprits and prompt a cleanup.

The cities of Rialto and Colton remain plaintiffs. Fontana Water Company also dropped out.

Araiza's district serves about 70,000 people in Rialto, Colton, Bloomington and Fontana. Five of eight wells tainted with perchlorate have or will soon be rigged with equipment to filter out the perchlorate. The chemical used in fireworks and rocket fuel has been linked to thyroid illnesses.

The Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board, based in Riverside, has been investigating the 6-mile underground plume of perchlorate for about five years. Investigators believe a 160-acre industrial site in northern Rialto, where fireworks manufacturers and defense contractors have operated for more than 60 years, is the source.

Legal wrangling has plans for a State Water Resources Control Board hearing to determine responsibility on hold.

A federal hearing is set to begin in October 2008.

Rialto Councilman Ed Scott said the city continues to pursue the lawsuit and has paid about $18 million for attorneys, consultants and investigations into the plume. He said the city is talking to state and federal regulators to see whether they can help.

Reach Jennifer Bowles at 951-368-9548 or or view her blog at

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