(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2007) The US Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its final plan to clean up a former fertilizer and insecticide plant that leaked numerous pesticides from its storage facility in Arvin, California. Among the chemicals released were dinoseb, ethylene dibromide, as well as other fumigants that have since contaminated the soil and potentially the groundwater.
Brown and Bryant, the company that manufactured and stored the chemical, was shut down 18 years ago. Since then residents have feared that the chemicals leaked would eventually get to the drinking water. The EPA confirmed that people who accidentally ingest or come into direct contact with contaminated groundwater or soil may be at risk.
The plan for the site is three-fold. The first component is to relocate the nearest water well to another location yet to be determined. The second component is to design and implement a system of large water arbor wells to pump and treat contamination in the shallow groundwater that is contained below the site. The third component is to develop a monitored “natural attenuation” plan. This is the natural decomposition process of contaminants in the middle aquifer.
Residents were hoping that the plan would also include the removal of contaminants in the deeper water level. However, the EPA said the contaminants have not reached the drinking water below the site and that there is not enough water in the deeper zone to pump and treat.
“I’m cautiously optimistic, we didn’t get everything we wanted. But we did get improvements, which is key,” said Ingrid Brostrom, an attorney with Committee for a Better Arvin.
Under the Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) of 1976, corrective action, such as the plan unveiled for Arvin, addresses the clean up of hazardous waste or hazardous constituents into soil, ground water, surface water, or air. The owners or operators of facilities responsible for the contamination are held responsible for clean up. The EPA is currently in litigation with the Santa Fe Railway and Shell companies over who must pay to clean up the site.