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 SAN DIEGO, Nov. 23 ~PRNewswire~ -- A group of companies, known as the Chatham Site PRP Group, has signed an agreement with the State Department of Toxic Substances Control to begin removing contaminated groundwater from the Chatham Brothers Barrel Yard site in Escondido, Calif., and to start a complete investigation of the five-acre former recycling facility to determine a final site remedy, according to Steve McDonald of Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps, counsel for the group of potentially responsible parties (PRPs).
 The PRP Group has agreed to finance the interim cleanup of contaminated ground water and a complete investigation at the site near Bernardo Avenue and Gamble Lane. The group has already hired Hargis and Associates, a La Jolla, Calif.-based technical consultant, to design a groundwater removal system and to conduct a comprehensive soil and groundwater investigation, which is estimated to cost several million dollars. The soil and groundwater will be thoroughly tested to determine the full extent of the problem and identify appropriate solutions. In addition, the companies have agreed to pay at least $4 million to reimburse the State for its past cleanup activities at the site.
 "The companies in this group should be applauded for their efforts," said McDonald. "They did the right thing years ago by sending their used chemicals to this former recycling site rather than sending them to dumps. Unfortunately, some chemicals were spilled at the Chatham site. Now these companies are once again doing the right thing by coming forth to address the problem even though it was caused by someone else."
 The Chatham Brothers Barrel Yard was operated as a recycling, waste transfer and drum reclamation facility by the Chatham family from approximately 1941 to 1981. During that 40-year period, numerous companies throughout Southern California and Arizona sent their oil and solvents to the site for recycling.
 In the early '80s, the State Department of Health Services and County Health Department closed down the Chatham site for an alleged lack of permits and unlawful waste handling practices. Subsequently, sampling of the soil and groundwater revealed that various chemicals, including waste oil and solvents, had been spilled about the site.
 In January 1986, the State Department of Health Services issued a Remedial Action Order requiring the Chathams to investigate contamination and come up with an action plan to clean up the site. The Chathams did not comply. In 1989, the Department of Health Services took action itself to remove 110 abandoned drums and a large amount of contaminated soil, but was unable to fully investigate and remediate the site.
 Unsuccessful in its attempts to have the Chathams clean up the site, and running out of State Superfund money, the State notified companies who had sent chemicals to the site for recycling that the State would attempt to hold them responsible for site cleanup if the companies did not come forward voluntarily. In December 1990, the State sent out inquiries to more than 175 companies listed in Chatham records (which only dated back to 1967), and a demand for reimbursement for $7.9 million, which the State said it had spent on the site. The State eventually named 93 parties as "potentially responsible" for cleanup at the site. Approximately 50 of these companies joined to form the Chatham Brothers Site PRP Group to address the problem in the most effective and efficient way.
 According to McDonald, the PRP Group's primary focus will be to investigate and remediate the site. However, the group will also seek to have others, who have not yet contributed to the cleanup, held responsible. "We have a window of time to convince others that it is better to cooperate in cleaning up the site, rather than spending money on lawyers fighting about liability." The State has said that it will also continue to pursue its case with the Chathams as well as to hold other companies it has identified as responsible parties jointly and severally liable for costs incurred in cleaning up the site.
 The following companies have stepped forth to join the PRP Group and sign the agreement with the State: Aerojet General Corp., Ametek Inc., Ara Chem Inc., Archive Corp., Astro Aluminum Treating Co., A to Z Enterprises Inc., Blair's Metal Polishing, City of Escondido, CSI Technologies Inc., Cubic Corp., Deposition Technologies Inc., Deutsch E.C.D., Frawley Corp., The Gadget Manufacturing Co., GEC-Marconi Electronic Systems Corp., The Gillette Co., The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Hallmark Circuits Inc., Huck Manufacturing Co., Hughes Aircraft Co., Interstate Electronics Corp., Kyocera International Inc., Maxwell Laboratories Inc., McDonnell Douglas Helicopter Co., Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, Monitor Products Co. Inc., Navistar International Transportation Corp., North American Philips Corp., Power Plus Corp., Robert Shaw Controls Co., Rogers Corp., San Diego County Water Authority, Solar Turbines Inc., Textron Inc., Union Carbide, Unitrode Corp., Valley Center Municipal Water District and Zero Corp.
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 ~CONTACT: Steve McDonald, counsel to the PRP Group, 619-699-2576; Dean Charles, chairman of the PRP Group, 619-576-7639; Treve Smith, community relations, PRP Group, 619-757-7500; or Laura Walcher or Yvette Sarrazin of Capener, Matthews & Walcher, 619-238-8500~

CO: ST: California IN: SU:

MS-JL -- SD004 -- 0824 11~23~92 20:47 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 23, 1992

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