WASHINGTON -- A long- running legal tussle over the tainted Valley Wood Preserving site in Turlock has turned a final financial corner, with the firm agreeing to pay a bit more for the cleanup.
The company and its co-owner, Joyce Logsdon, will reimburse the federal government an extra $20,300, the Justice Department said Tuesday. The money will further offset the costs of a cleanup that has exceeded $5 million.
"There were some disputes over costs," Environmental Protection Agency project manager Dana Barton said Tuesday. She added, however, that "Valley Wood has been great."
The payment agreement comes nearly three decades after Valley Wood Preserving closed, and 14 years after the Justice Department sued the company.
From 1973 until the company's closure in 1979, Valley Wood Preserving pressure-treated wood with chromium, copper and arsenic. Groundwater contamination caused the nine-acre parcel to be added in 1989 to the Superfund list.
Nearly 100 other California sites are on the Superfund list, from the Fresno Municipal Landfill to the former Castle Air Force Base. Most of the valley's sites were added in the 1980s.
For each, federal officials try to track down who was responsible. Then they try to get them to pay.
Through its 1994 lawsuit, the government put Valley Wood Preserving on the hook for cleaning the site at 2237 S. Golden State Blvd. in southeast Turlock.
Attorneys subsequently began arguing over some relatively minor cleanup costs incurred in 1997-98. The consent decree announced Tuesday, subject to public comment for 30 days, resolves this dispute.
Attorneys for Valley Wood Preserving could not be reached.
Engineers have tried several cleanup schemes. They first extracted 70 million gallons of contaminated groundwater, treated it to remove the chemicals and let the clean water percolate back underground. Engineers later began treating the groundwater in place.
"The remaining groundwater contamination is not widespread and the concentrations are not significantly above cleanup goals," the Environmental Protection Agency says on its Valley Wood fact sheet. "No domestic wells are contaminated and no one is exposed to contaminated groundwater."
Barton added that Valley Wood Preserving expects to complete the cleanup in a few years.
Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-383-0006.