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EPA Slashes Fine for Burbank Lockheed Plant

March 08, 2003|Caitlin Liu | Times Staff Writer

A $1.38-million fine on Lockheed Martin Corp. for improperly operating its water cleanup system in Burbank has been reduced to $260,000, federal officials said Friday.

Last year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sought to penalize the company after finding that it failed to pump 9,000 gallons of water per minute from the aquifer beneath its Burbank plant, which was required under the terms of a consent decree. But federal officials lowered the fine after acknowledging that Lockheed also had "pumping credits" from running the plant above required levels in the past, said Diane Strassmaier, a project manager for the EPA.

Lockheed's former Burbank aircraft production complex was designated for cleanup in 1986 under the federal Superfund program, which requires those responsible for pollution to pay for the removal of toxic materials.

A 1992 consent decree required Lockheed to operate a treatment system to remove the hazardous chemicals perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene from the groundwater.

Used in the 1940s to remove grease from metal airplane parts, the solvents have been linked to cancer in animal studies. The treatment facility is now being operated at the proper level, according to the EPA.

Lockheed officials could not be reached for comment.

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