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EPA investigating parcel neighboring Disney

Agency to examine allegation that Disney dumped cooling fluid into adjacent site’s soil.

June 13, 2009|By Christopher Cadelago

BURBANK — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday confirmed it is evaluating the so-called Polliwog site, an 11-acre parcel at the center of two recent lawsuits that allege the Walt Disney Co. has for decades contaminated groundwater with toxic chemicals, including cancer-causing chromium 6.

“The EPA has supported and will continue to support the state’s efforts to determine what if any action to take at this site,” said Francisco Arcaute, spokesman for the agency’s Los Angeles field office.

Disney officials this week denied all of the charges levied in the lawsuits, citing a soil investigation by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control conducted in October 2006 that found chromium levels in the area “below levels of concern” and well within California and EPA regulations.

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“In light of this, we believe these lawsuits are grossly inaccurate and meritless,” Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland said. “Disney and its employees have been proud members of the Burbank community for nearly 70 years. The health and safety of employees and residents are among our highest priorities.”

The latest lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of 16 individuals with ties to the Rancho District. It was filed by the Sacramento-based firm Kershaw Cutter & Ratinoff LLP, which is also representing Burbank resident Dennis Jackson and the watchdog group Environmental World Watch in a similar lawsuit filed June 3.

According to the latest lawsuit, Disney dumped wastewater contaminated with hexavalent chromium from its on-site cooling systems down the centerline of Parkside Avenue, toward Parish Place and across Riverside Drive into the Polliwog, a parcel near the studio’s Imagineering facilities.

Plaintiffs in the case include Burbank residents Robert and Inge Hill, Nichola Ellis, Madonna Fowler, Emil Klimach and Dennis Weisenbaugh, as well as Nancy Nelson and Israel Esteban, who trained horses in the area.

Each of the plaintiffs first became aware of the alleged toxic contaminates, including chromium 6, trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene, in February, after Environmental World Watch’s investigation reportedly revealed chromium 6 contamination in Polliwog Park and the surrounding area.

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