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LOS ANGELES – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $29.5 million cost recovery settlement with Shell Oil Company for the ongoing cleanup of waste and contaminated groundwater at the McColl Superfund Site in Fullerton, California.
Shell was found liable by a federal court for the cleanup and disposal of contaminated waste at the McColl Superfund Site. The principal contaminants of concern are benzene, metals, and a volatile chemical known as tetrahydrothiophene. As one of the responsible parties for the contamination, Shell has agreed to pay $29.5 million to resolve its share of costs that the federal government incurred through the cleanup process to date. Shell will also pay 58 percent of EPA’s future cleanup costs.
“Superfund cleanups can be extremely costly, usually amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Enrique Manzanilla, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Superfund and Emergency Management Division. “This case reflects EPA’s commitment to ensure that responsible parties, and not taxpayers, pay for cleanup of hazardous waste.”
EPA and its partners at the Department of Justice covered the up-front costs of some of the prior investigation work done at the site, studies and planning to determine a remedy, the costs of litigation, as well as the costs to have EPA officials oversee the cleanup work that Shell and other responsible parties conducted to make sure it was done in accordance with the Superfund law.
A consent decree formalizing the settlement was lodged in the Central District of California federal district court on August 6th by the U.S. Department of Justice. The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. The consent decree can be viewed at: https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees
From 1942 to 1946, the 22-acre McColl site in Fullerton was a disposal area for petroleum refinery waste. During that period, 72,600 cubic yards of waste were deposited in 12 unlined pits, or sumps. During the 1950s and early 1960s, in an attempt to control site odors, the operator covered the three sumps with drilling mud. In the late 1950s, during the nearby construction of a golf course, the operator covered six additional sumps at the lower end of the property with natural fill materials. Placement of additional soil cover on the remaining sumps took place in 1983. Residences were later built on land next to the site. Eventually, the golf course expanded to include the site.
Residents complained to regulatory agencies about odors and health issues beginning in 1978. The McColl site was added to the Superfund National Priorities List in 1983. EPA selected a cleanup remedy focused on capping the site to prevent water from infiltrating the waste, preventing the wastes from moving off-site, preventing contact with buried wastes, and collecting and treating gasses generated by the wastes. Following construction of the remedy, operation, maintenance, and monitoring activities began and will continue because waste remains at the site.
For more information on this Superfund site, please visit: www.epa.gov/superfund/mccoll
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