Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Burbank Water, Lockheed and Disney

Scroll down for updates including in comments.

Just learned that there is/was a class action suit against Lockheed for contaminating the city of Burbank's drinking water and that folks have died of cancer because of it. And more recently, Disney is being sued as well. I knew nothing about this , so am now on the hunt to get more details.

If you have something to add, please comment below or send me an email:

LANDSAT Map / SITE Former site of Lockheed Aircraft Corporation's Plant B-1


LISTEN/DOWNLOAD [MP3] VOICES Craig Paup (BHS 67) and Maria Hall

SB CUE Where I-5 and CA-170 diverge
NB CUE Olive Ave.

Adjacent to the I-5, bordered by Victory Place to the east, Empire Avenue to the north, Buena Vista Street to the west and railroad tracks to the south.

Trichloroethene (TCE) and tetrachloroethene (PCE), volatile organic compound contamination (VOCs), and hexavalent chromium groundwater contamination.

Lockheed opened a plant in Burbank in the 1930s, and during WWII employed over 80,000 people in producing aircraft there. In 1943 Burbank became home to Lockheed's secret aerospace development facility, formerly codenamed the Skunk Works, which was located at Plant B-1, 2300 Empire Avenue, and covered over 100 acres adjacent to the Bob Hope/Burbank Airport. Lockheed-Martin moved out of Burbank in the early 1990s, but left behind a toxic legacy of its activities, including a plume of contaminated groundwater. The many chemicals improperly disposed of on site over the Skunk Works sixty-year Burbank tenure included solvents TCE and PCE, and hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen.

The former Lockheed facility is considered a major polluter of the designated San Fernando Valley Superfund Site (Area 1), which defines a four-mile zone of contaminated groundwater. Groundwater monitoring from 1981 to 1987 revealed that approximately fifty percent of the water supply wells in over 5254 acres of the eastern portion of the San Fernando Valley were contaminated. In 1984 TCE and PCE groundwater contamination was discovered in water supply wells in Burbank. The area is part of the San Fernando Valley groundwater basin, an aquifer that had provided drinking water to over 800,000 local residents. Contamination sources at Lockheed included underground storage tanks, sumps, degreasers, and pipes. Exposure to groundwater contaminants can occur through ingesting drinking water, washing or bathing, and through inhalation of VOCs in vapors during showering.

In 1996, thousands of Burbank residents sued Lockheed after learning the company had paid out $66 million in secret settlements to 1,357 residents, and $30 million to workers for illness and loss of property value. In 2002, Lockheed Martin Corp. agreed to pay $1.25 million to settle all outstanding claims by residents who contend that they were sickened by decades of chemical contamination at the site. Besides civil lawsuits, Lockheed has had to pay more than $265 million since the late 1980s to clean up underground drinking water supplies, and they could spend as much as $100 million more in the next two decades.

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Schiff pushing for answers on chromium 6
September 02, 2000

Buck Wargo and Paul Clinton

BURBANK -- State Sen. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) wants to talk about chromium in the ground water. Schiff, who is pushing state lawmakers to fast track a study on the effects of chromium 6 in the drinking water of Burbank and neighboring communities, said Thursday he plans to hold a public hearing on the issue in Burbank in October.

On Friday, a bill introduced by Schiff two days earlier passed the Legislature that would compel the State Department of Public Health to complete a study by January 2002 to determine whether levels of chromium in drinking water taken from the San Fernando Basin aquifer should be reduced. The bill would also require public water systems to determine levels of hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6.

After passing the Legislature Friday, Schiff's bill is headed to Gov. Gray Davis' desk. The governor has until Sept. 30 to sign it. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich also annouced Friday that he would urge his colleagues to order countywide testing of drinking water at their Sept. 5 meeting.

Despite the presence of the known carcinogen in ground water, officials have insisted that Burbank's water supply -- which is blended with water from the Metropolitan Water District and treated locally -- is safe.

In 1998, the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment proposed reducing accepted levels of chromium to 2.5 parts per billion in drinking water. The state now permits 50 parts per billion, half the national standard of 100 parts per billion.

State Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), who heads the senate's Health and Human Services committee, has agreed to join Schiff at the hearing. State health officials have said it could take up to five more years to implement the 1998 proposal. The risks of hexavalent chromium, a known carcinogen, in drinking water are still being studied. Chromium 6 accounts for a portion of the total chromium. Cities currently test for levels of total chromium.

"I am concerned about the high levels of chromium 6 in the water supply," Schiff said. "They are evidently higher than anticipated, and we ought to have an accelerated study on whether this poses a health risk. Five years is totally unacceptable."

Lea Brooks, a spokesman for the Department of Health Services, said her office has not taken a position on the bill. The department is drafting regulations to monitor the toxin, she said.

"It is a very lengthy process," Brooks said. "A lot of steps need to be taken. ... We don't know how big a problem it is yet. That is the first step in the whole process."

The state Regional Water Quality Control Board announced last week it was launching an investigation to identify companies responsible for chromium contamination. Burbank Public Service Department employees test for total chromium and hexavalent chromium in ground water wells. The toxin has been detected as high as 29 parts per billion for chromium 6 and 50 parts per billion for total chromium. One well registered a 110 parts-per-billion reading three years ago.

Public Service Director Ron Davis said he supported Schiff's efforts and urged state health officials to offer more research from medical experts to back up their 2.5-parts-per-billion recommendation.

"It's a well intentioned response, but it doesn't have a lot of data," Davis said. "It's a thin study."

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Former residents limited by settlement
January 17, 2001

Jenna Bordelon

BURBANK -- Two former Burbank residents have lost the fight to continue their battle against Lockheed Martin Corp., officials said Friday. A Burbank Superior Court judge ruled in December that Lynnell Murray-Madrid and her sister, Erin Baker of Florida, were restrained by a settlement approved Dec. 8 by their attorney, Thomas G. Foley Jr. The women wanted to continue fighting Lockheed by filing their own lawsuit, but Judge Carl J. West ruled they could not pursue the matter after their attorney had already agreed to a good-faith settlement. Neither Murray-Madrid nor Foley could be reached for comment.

Nearly 400 current and former residents voted to accept the $5-million offer in October for illnesses they allege were contracted from Lockheed chemical byproducts. It has been reported that the plaintiffs accepted the money because the statute of limitations on their claim was running out.

About 3,000 additional residents sued Lockheed in 1996 after Lockheed agreed to pay 1,350 residents a $60-million settlement earlier that year. West dismissed many of those claims in September. A meeting between representatives for Lockheed and the plaintiffs will be held Jan. 19 to hash out who will be included in the settlement, Lockheed spokeswoman Gail Rymer said. She said that both sides have drawn on cash reserves since the claims were filed in 1996.

"We've spent several million dollars in defense," she said. "We will issue a $5-million check to Mr. Foley, and he will determine how it will be distributed."

Rymer said Lockheed, which manufactured aircraft for the military in Burbank from 1928 to 1991, was pleased with the ruling. "Judge West has shown great compassion for all involved in this case," Rymer said. "We understand Mrs. Madrid's concerns, but feel that the judge has made the appropriate ruling in including her in this settlement."

She added that Lockheed has spent about $250 million to clean up contaminants -- including hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium 6 -- from the soil and ground water.

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Illnesses come to light in claims

Residents cite cancer, diseases in animals as proof of chromium 6 contamination.

June 17, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

BURBANK — As their attorneys shuffle between four similar lawsuits that allege the Walt Disney Co. has for decades contaminated groundwater with cancer-causing chromium 6 and other toxic chemicals, stories of ill health from the plaintiffs are beginning to emerge.

In the latest lawsuit, filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court by the Sacramento-based firm Kershaw Cutter & Ratinoff LLP on behalf of 16 people with strong ties to the Rancho District, the plaintiffs claim Disney dumped wastewater contaminated with hexavalent chromium from its on-site cooling systems down the centerline of Parkside Avenue, toward Parish Place and across Riverside Drive into the so-called Polliwog, an 11-acre parcel near the studio’s Imagineering facilities.

“The water, without warning, would rush down like a flood,” said resident Bob Bell, who in 1945 paid $25,000 for his home at the corner of Parkside Avenue. “Water hopped the curb and flooded the streets for hours on end.”

While Bell is not part of the lawsuit, plaintiffs first became aware of the alleged toxic contaminants, including chromium 6, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, in February, after a representative of Environmental World Watch revealed results of an ongoing soil investigation. Plaintiff Sue Panuska said she has long suspected contamination.

“We live in one of the most beautiful areas of Los Angeles in a neighborhood that has come to be known as the city’s best-kept secret,” said Panuska, one of 16 residents who joined the June 9 lawsuit. “But contamination of the Polliwog has been the neighborhood’s dirty little secret. We’re hoping that because Disney created this carnage, that they will come forward and clean it up.”

Panuska is one of a handful of residents who fiercely opposed a planned sewer project by the city of Los Angeles. At the time, she spearheaded a neighborhood effort to raise $5,000 to test for toxic chemicals as part of a challenge to the draft environmental impact report.

Standing at the intersection of Parkside Avenue and Parish Place, Panuska gestured down several neighboring streets, pointing out the homes whose residents she said were diagnosed with various cancers, and listing off dozens of cases where horses, dogs and cats came down with various maladies.

Disney officials have denied all of the charges in the lawsuits, and last week pointed to an October 2006 soil investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control that found chromium levels in the area “below levels of concern” and well within state and EPA regulations.

“In light of this, we believe these lawsuits are grossly inaccurate and meritless,” spokesman Jonathan Friedland said.

On Beachwood Drive, plaintiff Dennis Weisenbaugh reflected on the life of his office manager, Gene Montoya, who two years ago died of liver failure after eight years of working eight-hour days from his home office.

Three of Weisenbaugh’s horses were diagnosed with diseases similar to laminitis, a painful inflammation of the foot, and had to be put down. At the Polliwog this weekend, large groups of children played tag and several more rode bicycles. The undeveloped site — hemmed in by West Riverside Drive, South Reese Place, South Beachwood Drive and the Ventura (134) Freeway — regularly sees horses and riders, and high school athletes train for cross-country meets at the facility, Weisenbaugh said.

“There are other places to play,” he said. “Keep them out of there until we know it’s safe.”

Plaintiffs William and Robin McCall, whose house looks out onto Parish Place, organized a May 14 neighborhood meeting to discuss the issue.

“We’re afraid of the consequences of living in this house,” said Robin McCall, whose husband began to develop “huge open sores that itched and oozed” three years ago. “Ultimately, I care more about the bodies than I do property. I want the Polliwog and homes that are contaminated to be cleaned up.”

Plaintiffs in the June 9 suit are seeking damages for restitution, “disgorgement of profits” and compensation for any damage to surrounding property values. Testing of the Polliwog parcel, which is owned by the city of Los Angeles, discovered “significant quantities” of chromium 6, according to the June 3 lawsuit filed by resident Dennis Jackson and Environmental World Watch, a Delaware corporation with offices in North Hollywood.

The lawsuit alleges that Disney has contaminated wastewater with chromium 6 from its on-site cooling systems since 1988. The organization also claims that recent tests show dirt dust and micro-fine hexavalent particles migrated off the Polliwog property, attaching to clothing, shoes, hair and horse hooves to such an extent that anyone walking on the parcel would be exposed to the toxic chemicals and carry residue with them, according to the lawsuit.

C. Brooks Cutter, attorney for the plaintiffs, would not comment on the lawsuits.

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APTwater wins $5M Burbank contract

O&M deal also calls for company to clean groundwater contaminated by Lockheed

Dec 2010

BURBANK, CA: APTwater, the Long Beach-based water services and technology company, has won its most significant contract to date to operate and maintain the Burbank Department of Water and Power groundwater treatment facility and address contamination issues.

The contract, valued in excess of $5 million, is a one-year deal with four optional one-year extensions. The water plant treats about 13 MGD and runs 24 hours a day.

“We just provided a good team and good solutions and a fair price,” APTwater CEO David Stanton said of the awarding of the contract, which had previously run by his former company SouthWest Water.

APTwater offers additional technology services for clients such as Burbank, which has specific water contamination issues. Burbank is working to clean water under the city that had been contaminated with volatile organic compounds, including trichloroethylene, by Lockheed and has been declared an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund site. In 2001, Lockheed settled with the EPA over violations involving the groundwater treatment system at its Burbank Operable Unit. Lockheed is paying for the APTwater contract.

APTwater plans to compete for more contracts that combine its ability to operate a water system with specific technologies it offers, Stanton said.

“We would like to provide water services and use our technology to enhance our service,” Stanton said. “We want to show that we can use our new technology over time, run it well and add value. We are looking for the clients that are not the generic O&Ms.”

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Airport, Lockheed Reach Settlement Over Contaminated Groundwater

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority will pay $2 million to Lockheed Martin in connection with a lawsuit over responsibility for contaminated groundwater in the area of Bob Hope Airport. In exchange, the aerospace company will defend the authority against having to contribute to a $108 million fund to clean the contaminated aquifer.

The U.S. Environment Protection Agency in July added the authority and other property owners, including Home Depot Inc. and Public Storage, to a list of those who should help pay clean chemicals in the groundwater.

The authority has been in extended litigation with Lockheed Martin, from which it purchased the property for the airport in 1978. The authority has long contended that in selling off the land, Lockheed had agreed to defend and indemnify the authority against any claims stemming from the years that Lockheed operated there. The settlement was a pure business decision, said Airport Authority President Frank Quintero.

“When we considered legal costs of resisting the EPA action, potential actual costs of participating in the EPA cleanup program, and the burden of continuing the dispute with Lockheed, it was clear this settlement was the most advantageous option for the authority and for airport travelers, who ultimately have to pay the tab,” Quintero said.

For more than 20 years the EPA has operated extraction wells to draw out water from the aquifer contaminated by aircraft manufacturing from the decades when Lockheed Martin owned the land straddling Burbank and North Hollywood.

Mark R. Madler

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$3 Million For More Water: Glendale, Burbank, North Hollywood Included in Environmental Protection Agency Superfund Site

By Mars Melnicoff, Wed., Mar. 9 2011 @ 3:49PM
​The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announces two settlements -- for a total of over $3 million -- with companies believed to be responsible for "industrial" chemicals in the soil and groundwater in areas including parts of Glendale, North Hollywood and Burbank.

Not to worry though, this is actually a good thing. It doesn't mean that you showered last night with Bath and Body Works Lavender Breeze shower gel -- and a surprise handful of trichloroethylene.

It DOES mean:

There will be more clean water tap-able and also more protection against chance of future contamination.

The affected area as a whole is known the San Fernando Valley Superfund Site.

What is a Superfund? Superfunds are areas designated by the EPA that need some super cleaning.

"We will investigate contamination in groundwater and soil in order to identify more sites," Rusty Harris-Bishop, communications coordinator for the EPA division in charge at this site tells L.A. Weekly. "We need to find out the extent of where there is chromium contamination in ground water ... We know where it isn't, but we want to find out where it is so we can prevent the chance of contamination from migrating."

Treatment plants filter industrial chemicals out of the water before we drink it -- this project will make sure more and more water that has been contaminated becomes useful again.

The money will go toward two main things:

1) Increasing the capacity of water treatment plants, so that there is more drinkable water available, and

2) More research into the extent of the problem.

"This is a big problem," Harris-Bishop tells the Weekly. "It is a long project [started here in 1986] and the site is large. If we encounter new work, we have to go find more funds."

Which is what they did. $2.2 million of the settlements will go toward expanding the treatment system and the rest toward finding more contaminated areas to tap into and clean in the future -- and to prevent spreading.

Looking red-handed -- and being held accountable by footing the bill and chipping in on the work are: Goodrich Corporation, ITT Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation and PRC DeSoto International, Inc.

--- end ---

UPDATE JUNE 20, 2018

EPA orders Lockheed Martin, Honeywell to clean contaminated Valley water
By Brenda Gazzar | | Daily News
PUBLISHED: June 20, 2018 at 6:46 pm

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two aerospace companies to complete more than $21 million in cleanup work at a Superfund site near Hollywood Burbank Airport, the agency announced Wednesday. Following two intense years of negotiation, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. have agreed to expand groundwater treatment and do more groundwater contamination studies at the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site – a 20-square-mile area of contaminated groundwater located mostly in North Hollywood and Burbank, federal officials said. Superfund sites are those that have been significantly contaminated by hazardous waste and identified by the EPA as a candidate for cleanup. This Valley Superfund site was once used to build airplanes and other devices. Chemicals were dumped into the ground here before experts understood that it would pollute the massive reservoir of water that lies under the San Fernando Valley.

Since 1989, roughly $250 million has been spent in the building and operating of Superfund remedies by a number of responsible parties, said Caleb Shaffer, the EPA’s section chief for Superfund Region 9. The remedies have resulted in the removal of more than 6,000 pounds of harmful volatile organic compounds at the site as well as the treatment of over 10 billion gallons of groundwater.
“The bunching of these three orders really represent a significant upgrade and expansion in terms of the amount of contamination that would be captured. It really represents a monumental success,” Shaffer said. “It will not only continue to capture the contamination that we’ve been capturing since 1989, but because of these improvements it will accelerate that and will capture more quickly, more efficiently.” Because the pollution reached the groundwater and was defused over the years within a large area, the remedy is going to have to operate for “decades and decades,” Shaffer said.

Lockheed and Honeywell make up two of the larger parties that the EPA has worked with that are responsible for the contamination. Shaffer said they have both stepped up in good faith to address the issue, he said. The federal agency has looked at 800 parties at 400 different facilities and found that “a large number of them were responsible.” The site is divided into the “Burbank Operable Unit” that’s located mainly in the city of Burbank and south of the Burbank airport as well as the “North Hollywood Operable Unit,” which is west of the Burbank site. Honeywell must build four wells to extract contaminated groundwater on the western end of the North Hollywood site and build a treatment system for harmful volatile organic compounds to prevent further groundwater contamination, according to the EPA. That project, which will be completed in 2019, is estimated to cost $10 million.

In addition, Lockheed Martin Corp. must design, build and operate wells to extract contaminated groundwater for the eastern portion of the North Hollywood site, according to the EPA. Federal officials say the system, which will cost about $10 million and will be completed around 2020, will prevent the further spread of groundwater contamination. The EPA also modified its 2009 decision to clean up groundwater contamination at the North Hollywood site. Among the changes are increased groundwater extraction and expanded treatment plant capacity to treat extracted water. Finally, Lockheed has to conduct a feasibility study at the Burbank area site, where groundwater conditions and the spread of contamination has changed due to fluctuating water levels. Data from that study, which will cost up to $1 million dollars, will be used to develop any necessary steps to prevent further contamination. Laura Toole, a spokeswoman for Lockheed Martin, said in an email that the company is already working to implement the actions outlined by the EPA and “will continue working cooperatively with EPA and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, and Burbank Water and Power, to meet all of its cleanup commitments.”

A spokeswoman for Honeywell said in a written statement that the company is “committed to continuing our work under the direction of EPA to fulfill our obligations.” The EPA will continue to work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power along with the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board to implement a full cleanup, according to federal officials. LADWP has seven well fields near or within the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site. Over the last decade, groundwater from the agency’s well fields has contributed to about 12 percent of the city’s water supply, according to the EPA. In the San Fernando Valley, there are also Superfund sites in Glendale and just south of Glendale, Shaffer said.

City News Service contributed to this report.


  1. Comments received thus far; names removed:

    "I don't know much about that subject, but (name removed) did ground water monitoring for USGS before going to work for the State (NM) and Los Alamos had, and continues to have, a significant impact locally. Having grown up at our kennel on Lima Street (near Lockheed) I've thought about the amount of heavy metals that were disposed of; plus on the block were several small chroming factories. I remember the clouds of fumes that came out of them, and the number of dogs that died from cancers, as did my father at 63 (the age I am now). Years later I was teaching an Env. Crimes Investigatins course for EPA in Jackson/Grand Teton, WY (nice venue) when I heard the Regional Special Agent-in-Charge for EPA tell the class that chrome factories are the very worst for airborne carcinogines. Hope your research goes well."

    "This is a surprise. Thank you, Cathy, for getting the word out. Any further news or explanations would be very helpful for those of us who no longer live in Burbank and no longer have family who live in Burbank . I will make sure that my family members know by forwarding your email."

    "I have never heard anything about this, or like this, until tonight on your blog. Sorry I don't have any more info for you. Good luck with your search."

  2. Just found this article:

    New Tests Show Severe Burbank Water Pollution
    October 27, 1987|ALAN C. MILLER | Times Staff Writer

    Groundwater contamination in Burbank is much worse than originally believed and apparently has been caused by many companies, not just Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co., state officials said Monday.

    "There's an indication there have been some very serious leaks or disposal that we have to get on very, very soon," said Robert P. Ghirelli, executive director of the state-run Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. "We're not talking about stuff just lying around in the ground."


  3. 2009 Article on Disney:

    Disney Kills -- Lawsuit Claims

    3/20/2009 5:08 PM PDT by TMZ Staff

    A Burbank family is suing the Walt Disney Company, claiming toxins from its Burbank headquarters contaminated the surrounding community, resulting in death.

    Dennis Jackson claims Disney's air conditioning system contained contaminated wastewater laden with toxic chemicals that migrated into nearby residential areas and even contaminated drinking water.

    The lawsuit, filed today in L.A. County Superior Court, claims Louise Jackson, who lived with her family in the neighborhood, died as a result of the pollutants. The suit claims residents now live in "terror of emissions."

    The suit says Disney has been using the same cooling system since 1957.

    "Actually it was probably from Lockheed Martin... They contaminated the Burbank Water supply and soil years ago. It's sad, many Burbank neighborhoods have lost hundreds of people to cancer. Unfortunately a judge ruled against them as well in 2000."


  4. More comments:

    "While growing up in Burbank I never liked the way the water tasted and always complained to my parents about it and to this day, I still don't drink tap water and I have a water filter system for my house. I don't know if it matters, but I only lived a few blocks from Lockheed. Let me know if you hear anything else."

    "Actually never heard anything about it but, both (name removed) & I are not surprised due to the times when they were building planes and did not have the technology then to consider what effect the process had on the environment. Good luck with your efforts!"

    "All my life growing up in Burbank I was plagued by constant flu like symptoms. At least 10 times a year I would become violently ill. Shakes, fever, throwing up, dehydration. It was a nightmare. I never knew when the symptoms would appear.
    Sometimes it was so bad I had to go to the emergency room at Burbank Hospital. They didn't know what was causing it, so they always gave me Compazine to control the symptoms. The Compazine never worked that well.
    The years went by. Nothing changed. Around 1993 I moved out of Burbank to Northridge. In all the years that I've been out of Burbank, I've had flu symptoms maybe three time. I really believe that I was being poisoned by the water in Burbank."

    "Let me know if you need help interpreting data. I do not know about that specific incident, but I analyze such sites routinely. Most of the time, the hype is a lot bigger than the reality, resulting in more adverse health effects from the scare than the contamination. Also, in general, the press will compare contamination from fifty years ago to the EPA standards of today, implying that someone was acting illegally or with a total disregard for human health for the sake of profit. In every case I have investigated, the company was operating according to the regulations of that time and the best health data available at that time. We never wore helmets while bike riding, either. A good friend died as a result. But no one is suing the motorcycle manufacturer now for failing to provide adequate safety equipment then. We call it ex post facto. The cigarette companies lost their case because they knew the adverse health effects and suppressed the knowledge. In the case of TCE and PCE, they were use routinely in many industries, including as an inhaled anesthetic. Adverse health effects were still being debated a decade ago, consistent data only being produced relatively recently (compared to 50 years ago when we were kids). Being able to determine what levels may have been present in our drinking water way back then may be impossible to establish. Burbank used deep wells. The contamination was in the ground water. Whether the aquifer and the groundwater ever mixed in this region would be difficult to prove."

    "I grew up on California St., right off Victory Blvd. and a couple of blocks from Hollywood Way, the gateway to Lockheed and the Burbank Airport. In 2004, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and went through the surgery , chemo and radiation. My husband grew up "on the hill" and in 2006, was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had surgery to remove the prostate. Thankfully, we are both survivors.
    I have long heard about the Lockheed contamination (Skunk Works) etc. However, didn't know about the Disney contamination in the Rancho Area...Wouldn't you know it, we have lived one block up from Alameda in the Rancho area for the last 35 years...
    It DOES seem awfully strange that so very many high school classmates and their family members, who worked and lived for so many years in Burbank, have suffered or died from cancer.
    I am sure this scenario is being played out in many parts of our country, as thousands of factories and manufacturing companies, energy companies, oil companies etc. were either ignorant of the proper ways to dispose of toxic waste or did not choose to spend the time and money to do it the correct way."

  5. Continued comments:

    "Cathy, I sent the link to my Dad and brother (names removed). I moved to Montana over 30 years ago so all this went down after I left. I got a $300 settlement years ago from Laagco Sales. It was an open ended lawsuit so if something else were found I had the option to jump back in. But, my Dad and brother know a whole lot more about it than I do."

    "THANKS!!! I had heard about this a while ago, but never did anything about it. Go get em Cathy....."

    "Around every airport there is contamination. My brother, Phil Beauregard was on the airport commission that help get that big noise abatement and damage suit awarded to the neighborhoods by the airport. I can imagine someone on that commission knew that fuel containing napthenes, benezene and other carcinogens result in a plume contaminating anything below it. As a private pilot I was taught to test my fuel and just throw it on the tarmac. That has been going on for decades. Good luck with your campaign."

    "Sorry to say I have no info in regards to Burbank's water. Funny part is my Dad had a diner right across the street that I worked in. Never a peep."

    "Born and raised on Brighton and Winona - 1 mile from Lockheed. What does it mean? So much info - so little info. What does this all mean? For me?"

  6. My husband and I both grew up in Burbank and have a home very close to the Burbank airport that we have lived in since 1978, I spent my childhood on Parish Place and my father worked for Lockheed for 44 years. My husband now has two kinds of cancer. One is a very rare Lymphoma. We were never in any lawsuit for this or the class action lawsuit in Burbank. Now i wish that we had been included in it. It seems unfair that all of us were being poisoned and didn't know it for all those years.
    Judy Seay

  7. More comments...

    "Hi Cathy, I was diagnosed with cancer in 1987, battled it with chemo and radiation, but still was not supposed to make it. My mother died two years prior to me with the same type of cancer. I went in for genetic testing, they found it was an environmental cause, not genes,. I moved from Burbank shortly after many months of therapy, and have had no reoccurrences. I lived not far from Lockheed, and when I was young my whole family lived not far from Lockheed. I had a feeling this had something to do with it."


    "Yes where the new Costco and shops sit was the old Lockheed facility. They pumped water out of there for years and took tons of soil out. Any facility that does manufacturing technically leaches some sort of contaminants into the water system. That is why they put testing wells at some of those facilities. I think most of the contamination was in the lower part of burbank below Glenoaks."

    I heard about it and people who had cancer from it. But I don't have any other info.

    "Nothing. Never heard anything about this. Where did you hear this?"

  8. Email from Ron Firgens who wants his name and contact info posted - thanks Ron:

    Lockheed and Ground Water Contamination

    From 1949-1987 my family had an aerospace hardware business in Burbank (West Coast Air Supply). It was well known amongst all the Lockheed subcontractors and those people who worked at Lockheed that the people who did plating and subcontracting for the area were dumping heavily contaminated water from their operations into the sewer and ground water systems in Burbank. I have watched over the years and seen the devastation this contamination caused among the children of Burbank and I know that the high incidence of Cancer found among Burbank (especially the children who grew up there) residents is not an anomaly. It can very definitely be linked to the industrial practices of the time. Whomever is pursuing this is going to need to do some serious scientific and environmental research but if I can help in any way please let me know. I will say that the City of Burbank looked the other way most times as far as businesses were concerned and disposal of their waste. I would be happy to speak with anyone concerning my knowledge.

    Just to let you know, I am married to Jodi Gable class of '65.

    Ron Firgens
    1125 SE Allenwood Dr.
    Grants Pass, OR 97527

  9. Just received this email which has links to A LOT more info:

    "Have you seen this one? Found pages and link after link and your BHS class blog connection. The second one has so many links on the inside....>it's out there tons of paper as to when DWP & EPA started checking into it in '88."

  10. Just re-watched Erin Brockovich', the movie based on the true story of contamination of drinking water with hexavalent chromium, also known as chromium(VI), in the southern California town of Hinkley. Sound familiar??

  11. "Chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium) is a potent carcinogen when inhaled. Growing evidence shows it is harmful when ingested via drinking water. EWG has uncovered a scheme by industry-funded scientists to alter study findings linking chromium in drinking water to cancer. People may be exposed to chromium in pressure-treated wood."


  12. New Comment 3/27/2010...

    Stringfellow Acid Pits riverside ca.
    The people that ran this waste site knew someday that it would contaminate most of the water supply in riverside county someday but they did not think it would happen in their life time. {that was in the court transcripts} These guys should have gotten life sentences.

    "MGM Brakes Ready for Reuse Determination brake manufacturer in cloverdale ca. contaminates local wells."

    In the early seventies public officials knew that some of the wells in Burbank were contaminated. There were many small companies in the valley connected to manufacturing aircraft parts {plating companies} that dumped waste haphazardly. National defense, greed, or just stupidity. There aren't many cities or towns without some toxins buried and local officials praying that it does not find it's way to the water table. Gee I think that they used to do above ground nuclear tests in Nevada.

    The two largest soft drink companies are buying up all of the water rights that they can. Imagine a world were you have to buy drinking water a bottle at a time.

  13. Add on to above comment:

    In the fifties and early sixties the opinion was that we would come up with a way to clean up the mess we were making. At least the medical field would find a cure for any ailment that the heavy metals could cause.

  14. So sad to read this comment just received as no amount of money can ever compensate for the suffering and loss of your mother!

    "We were part of big settlement in the mid 90's as a result of huge class action suit brought against Lockheed. Settlements were based on "family illness" and proximity to Lockheed. Since we lived between Empire an Thorton Ave.'s at the time and my mom died of bain cancer and my daughters had asthma, we were in the mix for the settle...ment. I thought that class action was based on the "air" quality, but I could be wrong. It was a very long..tedious process."

  15. Another comment:

    "This isn't anything new. Lockheed in Burbank is one of the Super Fund sites (sites that have contaminated the ground water by various compounds, primarily trichlorethelyne sp?) . Aerojet, near us where (name removed) worked, is also, as are many site all over the country. It's been listed as a Super Fund site for a long time."

  16. Again this is so sad to read...

    "I lived in Burbank most of my life until 2004 when we moved to WA state. I was diagnosed with lymphoma in 1985, it was considered to be
    terminal, but somehow, I'm still here. Most alarming was the number of dogs and cats, and we had a lot, who were diagnosed with different varieties of cancer - lymphoma, mammary gland cancer, lung cancer, cancer in the spleen,
    liver cancer. We also had a horse, who lived in our back yard, who had cancer. I have suspected for a long time that the water was responsible. My husband has had unusual health issues also. The odds that all these problems would happen in the same family seem pretty long. If this information can help you in any way, I'm glad."

  17. GAG!

    "Hello Cathy, A former Lockeed employee who became a real estate salesman at Sunshine Realty in Sunland told me of his having to dump barrels of toxic materials into the storm drains."

  18. hmmmm...

    "Back then, my uncle worked for the water department and he always told us not to drink the water. That's why we always had Sparkletts."

  19. New comment:

    "Thanks for forwarding all the info re Lockheed water contamination in Burbank. I was not aware of what was going on. My lovely aunt (name removed) died of uterine cancer in 1971. She and her husband (name removed) lived on Olive Ave, almost at the top of the hill. Don't know if there is a connection."

  20. Two recent news articles on hexavalent chromium (or chromium 6) - the first from India (US companies take their pollution to places where regulations aren't as strick) and the second from Louisville... grrrrr!

    "The latest study by the Department of Mines and Geology on Bangalore's groundwater has found a staggering 17.75 mg/l of hexavalent chromium, a carcinogenic heavy metal, in borewells in Peenya III Stage. This is over 300 times the permissible limit of 0.05 mg/l."

    "Months after the Environmental Working Group found what it declared an unsafe level of the carcinogenic chemical compound hexavalent chromium (chromium 6), the Louisville Water Company has confirmed the substance’s presence in city water. But, company officials say the water is still safe to drink."

  21. New comment today:

    "My sister's husband worked for Lockheed in the 70's and 80's - this is what she remembers he told her......
    When (name removed) was still working in Burbank, Lockheed was supposed to clean up some 'hazardous' waste near some of the old buildings. The ground water contamination
    I heard about was from electro-plating companies in Burbank. Supposedly, some of the wells were closed because of that. And it wasn't directly blamed on Lockheed that I knew about. But Lockheed has a deeper pocket than the little companies. I didn't know there was any way to get heavy contamination out of the ground water."

  22. New comment today:

    "Hi Cathy ….. I knew nothing about this or any lawsuits whatsoever since I moved out of Burbank shortly after graduating! My mother passed away at 65, she got cancer at age 59. I would be interested to find out more about the lawsuits. Are there any pending? I am so angry, I always knew it had to be the water and Lockheed. It smelled terrible and I never drank tap water again. And now our Class has lost so many classmates to cancer . . . . This is really upsetting.

    Please send me any information if there is anything pending, I would like to add my Mother to the list! How many others were afflicted that don’t know anything about this?!"

  23. Here is Erin Brockovich's website, if anyone wants to contact her:

  24. Comment from Facebook:

    "My mother died in 1997 due to drinking the contaminated water in Burbank! Her symptoms started in her early 70's and she lost her fight at the age of 74. She did not deserve to pass in such a horriffic way. Her favorite saying was "Knowledge is Power." Take heed my friends. This is real!!!"

  25. New comment:

    "My brother worked at Lockheed for years and he was well aware of the water fiasco. As for me, I never heard about it until your email."

  26. Today I talked to another classmate who has been battling cancer. When I mentioned the possible link to the Burbank water, they knew nothing of this. So just now, I emailed Erin Brockovich asking if there's hope today for anyone who believes their health has been affected by the Burbannk water.

  27. For what it's worth, just received a brief reply from Erin Brockovich.

    Here is my April 3, 2011 message to her:

    Hello Erin, I grew up in Burbank, California, and just recently was shocked to discover that our drinking water was and maybe still is contaminated! A school friend mentioned to me that her mother died of the Lockheed cancer. I did some research, found news articles confirming her tragic story, put the info on my class blog and emailed it to a few hundred Burbank High alumni. Here is the post which includes comments I've received back: My question: Is there any hope for those who today believe their health has been affected by the water in Burbank? Thank you so much, Erin!
    Cathy Palmer

    And here is her reply:

    Dear Cathy,

    Thank you for your email enquiry. I appreciate that you have taken the time to contact me.

    I am always amazed and humbled at the number of enquiries I receive from around the globe from people just like you who need my help or want some simple advice on how they may move forward in helping themselves. I take this responsibility very seriously, so it’s important to ensure I take the time to review the many enquiries I receive each week.
    Thank you again and I will consider and reply to your enquiry as soon as possible.
    Yours sincerely

    Erin Brockovich

  28. Another link to read more:

  29. JUNE 3, 2014 UPDATE
    Article in the Glendale News Press

    Chromium 6 limit finalized for California
    New maximum contaminant level for carcinogen won't impact Glendale.





    June 2, 2014 | 1:58 p.m.

    The California Department of Public Health's new cap on water contaminant chromium 6 of 10 parts per billion is set to take effect July 1 after the limit received final approval from an administrative arm of the department last week.

    The Office of Administrative Law's approval follows more than three years of work by the health department to reduce the maximum contaminant level for the cancer-causing element featured in the 2000 film "Erin Brokovich." Public health officials used more than a decade of research done by the city of Glendale to craft the new cap.

    Prior to the change, made official Wednesday, the state department limited total chromium, which includes the cancer-causing chromium 6 and the nutrient chromium 3, to 50 parts per billion.

    One part per billion is often compared to a drop of water in an Olympic-sized swimming pool, so setting the limit at 10 parts per billion would be equivalent to 10 drops of chromium 6 in a 130,000-gallon pool.

    Glendale and other cities in the San Fernando Valley have been plagued for decades by the water pollutant that leaked into groundwater after being used by the long-gone aerospace industry.

    Google Inc.

    But Glendale Water & Power won’t be impacted by the recommended cap on the cancer-causing contaminant because the city’s utility currently limits chromium 6 levels to 5 parts per billion by cleaning polluted water and blending it with expensive, but clean, imported water.

    Rep. Adam Schiff, who has long complained that the state department of public health was taking too long to set the new limit, called the cap an "important step forward" in a statement Monday.

    “With this new rule, California will lead the way in providing quality drinking water, free of dangerous levels of this carcinogen," he said.

    Still, the democrat from Burbank challenged water agencies to work to limit the carcinogen level in their drinking water even more.

    “Though this is welcome news, I hope that communities will go beyond this standard and insist on even lower levels of chromium until we can completely remove it from our water supply," he said.

    Health department officials have estimated that reducing the limit to 10 parts per billion will cost water agencies statewide $156 million in total.

    -- Brittany Levine,,0,6573081.story