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USA: Texaco Begins Soil Cleanup, Additional Groundwater Work at Ventura County Superfund Site

Allows for Future Commercial and Recreational Use at Pacific Coast Pipeline Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that work will begin this week to address soil contamination at the Pacific Pipeline Superfund Site located in Fillmore, CA. Additional groundwater work will begin in early 2014. This work, estimated to cost more than $8 million, is part of a recent settlement with Texaco Inc., a Chevron subsidiary.

Texaco, under EPA's supervision, will excavate 20,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated with lead and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) as well as implement additional groundwater measures at the site. Once the soil work is completed, the main part of the site will be ready for commercial development and recreational use.

In 1992, EPA selected a clean-up plan to address groundwater contamination at the site. Texaco installed an extraction and treatment system to remove benzene and toluene from the groundwater. Although the levels of these chemicals were significantly reduced, they remained above federal and state drinking water standards. EPA amended the plan in 2011, calling for additional actions.

As part of the settlement announced today, Texaco will implement additional groundwater measures. Contamination in the southern plume will be reduced using techniques including air sparging, which injects air into the groundwater to promote the breakdown of benzene by naturally occurring bacteria. Benzene contamination in the northern plume will continue to break down naturally without intervention. Texaco is required to monitor the progress of the groundwater clean-up, estimated to take 30-50 years.

As part of the soil clean-up, the excavated soil will be moved to an on-site pit and capped to prevent exposure to the public as well as to prevent further releases through infiltration to groundwater. Soil clean-up is expected to take around five months. Once the soil clean-up is completed, the main portion of the site can be readied for commercial and recreational use.

From 1935 to 1950, Texaco operated an oil refinery on a 55-acre portion of the Pacific Coast Pipeline site, which contaminated soil and groundwater with heavy metals and volatile organic compounds. The site was placed on EPA's National Priorities List in 1989.

The settlement agreement was lodged in the federal district court by the U.S. Department of Justice on May 3, 2013. It is subject to a 30-day public comment period ending on June 10, 2013. A copy of the agreement is available at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html