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Lockheed Cleanup : Water Board OKs Delay in Pollution Plan

December 18, 1987|ALAN C. MILLER | Times Staff Writer

Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co. must begin treating contaminated ground water beneath its Burbank facility by Sept. 15, three months later than previously scheduled, a state environmental agency announced Thursday.

In addition, Lockheed must remove pollution from its soil by Aug. 1, complete an expanded investigation of toxic contamination by Sept. 1 and excavate an abandoned waste-disposal site by Dec. 31, 1988, under a cleanup order issued by the state-run Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.

"We feel these dates are responsible," said Hank Yacoub, supervising engineer of the board, which monitors sources of ground water pollution.

Lockheed, which had sought the delay in its ground water cleanup plan, did not have time to review the board's order Thursday, spokeswoman Barbara Kornylo said.

Lockheed must clean ground water beneath its 59-year-old plant because it is contaminated by concentrations of two industrial solvents containing suspected carcinogens at levels thousands of times above those permitted by the state for drinking.

Test wells drilled at Lockheed detected 12,000 parts per billion of perchloroethylene, an industrial cleanser, and 1,600 ppb of trichloroethylene, another cleanser seldom used since 1966. The state limit for drinking water is four ppb for perchloroethylene and five ppb for trichloroethylene.

Higher Levels Detected

Lockheed requested a delay in the ground water cleanup--which was scheduled to start in June--after it unexpectedly detected much higher levels of the solvents in October at a monitoring well upstream from its facility. Water samples drawn from a well at Thornton Avenue and Naomi Street contained 43,000 ppb of perchloroethylene and 8,000 ppb of trichloroethylene.

Lockheed is redesigning its cleanup plan to avoid pulling in the higher concentrations north of its plant, which the aerospace firm maintains is not its responsibility. Water board officials agree that it is unlikely that Lockheed is responsible for these higher levels of pollution because underground water flows in a southerly direction.

"They were going to pull in, potentially, someone else's problem," Yacoub said, explaining the reason the board agreed to the delay. He said Lockheed may use a second well that will pump water at a lower rate than had been projected to avoid drawing the higher concentrations downstream.

The Water Quality Control Board, meanwhile, has undertaken a survey of 125 businesses around San Fernando Road to determine which are responsible for the more serious contamination so it can seek to have them pay for the costly cleanup.

The inquiry is focusing on 20 to 30 companies that have used solvents, and is expected to be completed next month.

7 of 10 Wells Closed

None of the contaminated water found in Burbank is used for public consumption, officials said. Seven of the city's 10 wells already have been closed because of high concentrations of pollution.

Lockheed's soil contamination resulted from leaking tanks under some of its warehouses. The Water Quality Control Board approved the firm's proposal to remove toxics by installing perforated pipes in the soil and sucking vapors out with a vacuum pump, Yacoub said.

The company must determine the nature of materials found at the waste-disposal site before removing them, Yacoub said. If the materials are hazardous, it must make provisions to transport them to a hazardous land disposal facility.

Most of the sites covered in Lockheed's expanded ground water investigation are near Burbank Airport.

The survey will involve more soil testing; installation of nine additional ground water monitoring wells at three locations; review of records and interviews with past and present employees to determine the use, handling and disposal of chemicals and solvents.

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