While environmental regulators have absolved 1,500 companies from financial liability in the cleanup of contaminated San Gabriel Valley ground water, 72 other businesses have agreed to pay for the $100-million project.
Sixteen of the 72 companies cited have already paid $2 million for project start-up costs, said Wayne Praskins of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Praskins worked on the investigation and is overseeing the cleanup in the Azusa and Baldwin Park areas.
The list of companies absolved from financial responsibility includes every kind of business imaginable, from steel manufacturers to towing services to thrift shops.
An exact number was not available, but Praskins said hundreds of other San Gabriel Valley businesses remain under investigation for their roles in the contamination of area ground water.
EPA and Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board officials announced Friday that companies absolved of liability will be notified by mail.
Forty-two companies from the La Puente and Industry areas reached settlements with water quality officials in 1993. The remaining 14 companies reached agreements with federal and state environmental investigators this month, Praskins said.
Their respective shares in the overall cleanup bill will be worked out early next year, he said.
The 16 companies from the Azusa and Baldwin Park areas that have already started paying may have to ante up as much as $45 million more to dig wells, install monitors and build a water treatment center to cleanse tainted water from the San Gabriel Valley Basin, Praskins said.
An $800,000 grant from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and $125,000 from the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority will also be used in the initial stages of the cleanup, Praskins said.
In the early 1980s, after the San Gabriel Valley Basin was identified as a priority EPA Superfund cleanup site, officials with the EPA and the Regional Water Quality Control Board started sending questionnaires to all businesses in the valley. The information sent back and the results of follow-up inspections were used as the basis for either absolving companies from liability or ordering them to pay, Praskins said.