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LA Landfill Maintenance Action Renewed by Calif.

(CN) - Renewing a 10-year-old federal complaint, California's environmental agency named dozens of entities it wants to help maintain a hazardous-waste Los Angeles landfill.

After devoting 17 pages to identifying the parties, a list that begins with American Honda and ends with Xerox Corp., the complaint filed Monday by the California Department of Toxic Substance Control gets to the heart of the matter: a hazardous-waste, Class I landfill located at 2210 South Azusa Ave. in West Covina.

"From approximately 1969 to 1984, the Class I Landfill accepted in excess of 4 million tons of liquid and solid hazardous wastes, together with large amounts of other wastes," the complaint states. "During this period and afterwards, there were sudden and accidental releases of hazardous substances."

With help from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the plaintiff CDTSC's predecessor coordinated the landfill's closure with its last owner, BKK Corp., in the late 1980s.

Mercury, methylene chlorine, chromium and potassium cyanide all appear on the list of hazardous substances disposed at the landfill.

Leachate Treatment Plant began operating in 1987, serving both the Class I landfill as well as a municipal class III landfill that BKK also owned an operated, according to the complaint.

The CDTSC says it hired a contractor to work on the site when BKK revealed that it did not have the financial resources "to perform further required post-closure care of the Class I Landfill, including operation of the Leachate Treatment Plant, after November 17, 2004."

Many of the defendants received notice from the state before 2004 closed about their duty "to take actions at the subject property to protect public health and safety and the environment," according to the complaint.

The CDTSC brought a suit and settled it against roughly half of the defendants in 2005.

Entered by the court in 2006, the "Amended First Consent Decree required the settling defendants therein to, among other things, maintain and operate the major environmental protection systems at the subject property, to investigate certain landfill conditions, and to repair, upgrade and/or update certain subsystems," according to the complaint.

All of the parties twice extended that settlement over the years, the CDTSC says, noting that two defendants - Washington Mutual Bank and General Motors - became insolvent in the meantime.

The "Second Consent Decree," entered by the court in 2010, "required the settling defendants therein to continue various actions regarding the subject property, to reimburse DTSC for certain costs it had incurred and could in the future incur related to the subject property, and to conduct an engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) for the subject property," according to the complaint.

In July 2013, the court allegedly approved an extension of that decree until Feb. 10, 2016.

The CDTSC says BKK bought the landfill in 1976 from Home Savings of America, the facility's owner since 1962. Neither BKK nor Home Savings are named as defendants in the latest action. With the exception of asbestos, the landfill ceased accepting hazardous waste in 1984, according to the complaint.

Because the hazardous substances are now present in groundwater and landfill leachate, 24-hour maintence of a gas collection system is necessary to prevent exposure, the CDTSC notes.

"Releases of methane and vinyl chloride from these systems are of particular concern," the complaint states.

The agency also says groundwater and leachate-extraction wells must remain in operation to prevent the migration of hazardous substances from the BKK facility.

"This includes the potential for creating contaminated surface water bodies in areas where artesian conditions exist as well as impacting existing surface water bodies," according to the complaint.

"Residential areas are located immediately to the south and southeast of the subject property," the complaint continues. "Several homes are located only 25 to 50 feet away from the subject property. Commercial areas are located immediately to the west of the subject property.

The agency mentions as well the possibility for "a flammable and potentially explosive atmosphere ... if methane released from the landfills mixes with ambient air."

An account that the CDTSC ministers is also named as a plaintiff to the action, which seeks recovery for the response to the releases of hazardous substances from that site, "together with the Leachate Treatment Plant, integrated gas collection systems, the service roads, and related pollution control equipment serving it."

Entities named as defendants include Bayer Cropscience Inc. and Dow Chemical Co., plus the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

Deputy Attorney General James Richard Potter signed the complaint.

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