The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled June 20 that aerospace companies Lockheed Martin Corporation and Honeywell International, Inc. must commence groundwater treatment projects at the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site in Los Angeles County. The work is expected to cost more than $21 million.

Honeywell will be required to construct four extraction wells on the western portion of the North Hollywood Operable Unit (NHOU) site and build a treatment system for 1,4-dioxane, hexavalent chromium and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the area to prevent additional groundwater contamination. The project will cost about $10 million and will be completed in 2019.

The Lockheed Martin order requires the company to design, construct, and operate four extraction wells for the eastern portion of the NHOU that will address VOCs. The EPA says the roughly $10-million system will prevent further migration of existing groundwater contamination and will be completed around 2020.

The EPA will work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board to “implement a full and thorough cleanup,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker said in a news release.

The EPA announced it is also modifying its 2009 record of decision to clean-up groundwater contamination at the NHOU portion of the site. The modifications are detailed in a document called an explanation of significant differences, or ESD. They include increased groundwater extraction; expanded treatment plant capacity that will treat the additional extracted water; and the decision to transfer some of the extracted groundwater from NHOU to the Burbank Operable Unit (BOU) treatment plant.

Lockheed will also be required to conduct a focused feasibility study at the BOU site, says the EPA. Groundwater conditions and contaminant migration at the site have changed due to fluctuation in water levels. As part of the focused feasibility study, Lockheed will collect data from the site to determine the most current extent of groundwater contamination. The data will be used to develop and evaluate any necessary alternatives for remedial action to prevent further contamination of the site. The study will be completed in 2019 and will cost up to one million dollars.

Lockheed and Honeywell are owner and operators of former aerospace manufacturing facilities that the EP says released contaminants including TCE, PCE, hexavalent Chromium, and/or 1,4-dioxane into the groundwater. Dioxane is classified as an ether and can be used as a solvent.

The San Fernando Valley (Area 1) site is a twenty-square-mile area of contaminated groundwater located primarily in North Hollywood and Burbank, California. The site is one of four Superfund sites in the San Fernando Valley. The Area 1 site has been further divided into operable units: the Burbank Operable Unit (BOU) located primarily in Burbank and south of the Burbank airport; and, the North Hollywood Operable Unit (NHOU) located to the west of the BOU.

EPA has been working to clean up groundwater contamination in the San Fernando Valley area since the early 1980s when solvent pollution was first discovered. The site was placed on the Superfund list in 1986 and consists of two areas: The Burbank Operable Unit (BOU), located primarily in Burbank and south of the Burbank airport; and the North Hollywood Operable Unit (NHOU), located to the west of the BOU. Groundwater treatment systems have been operating since 1989, removing TCE, PCE, 1,4-dioxane, and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from groundwater in the North Hollywood area.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) produces groundwater for public distribution from seven wellfields near or within the San Fernando Valley Superfund Site. Over the past ten years, groundwater from LADWP wellfields have contributed approximately 12 percent of the City of Los Angeles’ municipal water supply, but LADWP says it is planning to expand that supply to provide resiliency for drought and earthquake preparedness.