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Whittaker receives fine for cleanup miscues

Posted: July 29, 2011 6:30 a.m.
Updated: July 29, 2011 6:30 a.m.

State water officials have fined Whittaker Corp. $84,000 for allegedly contaminating the Santa Clara River during the cleanup of the Whittaker-Bermite site.

On Thursday, the State Water Resources Control Board issued more than $1.3 million in water fines against eight Southern California firms. Whittaker Corp. is financially responsible for cleaning up the nearly 1,000 acres in the center of Santa Clarita polluted during decades of munitions manufacturing.

State law requires each violation alleged in the complaint to be assessed a mandatory minimum penalty of $3,000.

Whittaker Corp. faces $84,000 in such penalties for allegedly exceeding effluent limits during groundwater cleanup at Whittaker-Bermite.

The water board accuses Whittaker of committing 28 such violations between May 2006 and May 2008. Each involved materials finding their way from the site southeast of Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads into the local watershed, the board cited in a news release issued Thursday.

Specifically, the board claims water from a groundwater- and soil-cleaning site was improperly discharged into a storm-water-collection system, near Soledad Canyon Road and Commuter Way, that discharged into the Santa Clara River.

The person who heads the state agency responsible for supervising the cleanup said Thursday he did not know of the alleged violations.

“I have no information on this,” said Jose Diaz, senior project manager of the Department of Toxic Substances Control. “I have not received any information on this.”

In March, Diaz informed a local environmental group monitoring the cleanup at Whittaker-Bermite that his department had cleaned the area’s first segment identified in the cleanup plan.

Excavation of five other segments was expected to begin by the start of this summer, he said.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control began monitoring cleanup of the site in 1992. Whittaker filed its cleanup plan in the 1980s.


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