Environment (263787)

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week announced that two aerospace companies have been ordered to spend at least $21 million to begin cleaning up underground water at two sites near Hollywood Burbank Airport.

The sites are above underground plumes of chemicals used to build airplanes and other devices — chemicals that were deposited onto the ground in large amounts over the decades before scientists learned they would contaminate the huge reservoir of water that sits under the San Fernando Valley.

Lockheed Martin Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. were ordered to expand groundwater treatment and conduct additional groundwater contamination studies at the San Fernando Valley Area 1 Superfund site. Superfund is a federal designation for areas of exceedingly bad industrial pollution.

In a statement, EPA Regional Administrator Mike Stoker said the agency “will continue to work with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board to implement a full and thorough cleanup” of the tainted groundwater.

DWP is hoping to make better use of the massive groundwater supply sitting under the San Fernando Valley, by having industries extract the tainted water, cleanse it and inject it back underground. The basin can also absorb rain water, for later domestic use.

DWP has seven well fields near or within the San Fernando Valley Superfund Site, according to the EPA. Over the past 10 years, groundwater from LADWP well fields have contributed approximately 12 percent of the city of Los Angeles’ municipal water supply.

Los Angeles is planning to expand that supply to provide resiliency for drought and earthquake preparedness.

The first EPA order, with Honeywell International, will require the company to construct four extraction wells in North Hollywood and build a treatment system for volatile organic compounds such as hexavalent chromium. That project will cost about $10 million and will be completed in 2019, according to the EPA.

Lockheed Martin Corp., meanwhile, will design, construct and operate four extraction wells near the Hollywood Burbank Airport. EPA officials said the system will prevent further migration of existing groundwater contamination.

According to the EPA, the agency is also ordering an increase in groundwater extraction, expanded treatment plant capacity to treat the additional extracted water and a decision to pump some of the extracted water to a treatment plant in Burbank.