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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Deal will clean Santa Clarita Valley aquifers

By Valerie Reitman, L.A. Times Staff Writer
May 3, 2007

Perchlorate contaminating the Santa Clarita Valley's underground water supply is to be cleaned up under an estimated $100-million settlement of a federal lawsuit against former and present owners of a shuttered munitions and fireworks factory announced Wednesday.

The suit was filed by four area water agencies in November 2000 against Whittaker Corp., Remediation Financial Inc. and Santa Clarita LLC over pollution at the 996-acre site known as the Whittaker-Bermite plant, which for decades operated in the heart of Santa Clarita.

Five public wells were shut in 1997, about a decade after the plant closed, after the perchlorate contamination was discovered.

Perchlorate compounds are used in the manufacture of explosives, munitions and rocket fuel.

Under the agreement, a treatment plant will be built to clean up pollution in two local aquifers.

The facility will be at Bouquet Canyon Road, next to the Castaic Lake Water Agency pump station. The agency was a plaintiff, along with the Newhall County Water Agency, the Santa Clarita Water Co. and the Valencia Water Co.

The settlement is still subject to federal District Court and Bankruptcy Court approval. The current site owners filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

Two potential buyers — SunCal Cos., a builder, and Cherokee Investment Partners, which specializes in redeveloping polluted properties — have proposed buying and developing the site with homes and businesses after soil cleanup is complete.

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