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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Companies Sued Over Water Pollution

May 19, 2000

SAN GABRIEL VALLEY — A group of residents sued 19 defense contractors as well as manufacturing and oil companies Thursday, alleging that for decades they allowed toxic substances to leak into the drinking water supply beneath Baldwin Park, causing cancer and other health problems.

In the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, 23 people allege they were affected by contaminated ground water, and 23 others seek damages based on the deaths of nine relatives. Two plaintiffs make both claims.

Toxic substances, including the rocket fuel perchlorate, were allowed to migrate into the ground water, the suit alleges.

The suit alleges that the companies violated federal, state and municipal water and environmental laws and showed "reckless disregard" of their actions.

Among the companies named in the lawsuit are Aerojet and Wynn Oil. None could be reached late Thursday for comment.

Some of the same companies last year agreed to pay $200 million to remove dangerous chemicals in San Gabriel Valley ground water.

In 1984, five years after tests showed volatile organic compounds in some of the water the ground water basin beneath the San Gabriel Valley was declared a Superfund site, meaning it is subject to federal cleanup mandates.

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