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.
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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.
THREATS AND CONTAMINANTS
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
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
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.
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