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$50M settlements for water supply contamination

RIALTO, Calif. (AP) -- Settlements worth $50 million have been reached with companies that produced and stored fireworks, munitions and rocket motors at a Southern California industrial site where the water supply became contaminated, federal authorities said Wednesday.

The two settlements involve cleanup of contamination from the 160-acre B.F. Goodrich Superfund Site in Rialto, the Environmental Protection Agency and Justice Department said.

"For decades, the defendants have been polluting this critical source of drinking water with both perchlorate and industrial solvents," EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld said in a statement. "Today's historic settlement ensures that the impacted communities in Southern California will finally have their drinking water sources restored."

The EPA, San Bernardino County and the cities of Rialto and Colton had sued Pyro Spectaculars Inc. and others suspected of dumping or burning toxic chemicals in pits at the site about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

The cities, as well as water districts not involved in the lawsuits, shut down 20 contaminated wells and installed treatment equipment after the pollution was discovered in 1997.

"After decades of harmful groundwater contamination and following protracted and costly litigation, the parties ... have agreed to a comprehensive long-term plan to clean up the contaminated groundwater at the site," Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno said in a statement.

The dozen settling parties in Wednesday's announcement include Emhart Industries and Pyro Spectaculars.

The Emhart settlement also includes Black & Decker Inc., American Promotional Events Inc., the Department of Defense, the Ensign-Bickford Company, Raytheon, the Whittaker Corp., Broco Inc., and J. S. Brower & Associates Inc.

Emhart will perform the first part of the cleanup, which will cost an estimated $43 million over the next 30 years to design. It will also build and operate groundwater wells, treatment systems and other equipment needed to clean up the contaminated groundwater at the site.

More than $4 million will be paid by Pyro Spectaculars and five others, including defunct PSI subsidiary Astro Pyrotechnics, Trojan Fireworks, Thomas O. Peters and related trusts; and Stonehurst Site LLC.