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Editorial: Fining airport is unfair

July 17, 2010

An EPA order to Bob Hope Airport to share in the $108-million cleanup of underground water contamination dating back decades is an example of the "ready, fire, aim" decision-making that often plagues federal decision-making.

The contamination, tied to the former aerospace manufacturing industry that dominated the San Fernando Valley corridor decades ago, has been linked to companies like Lockheed Corp., which for years has been contributing to ongoing efforts to clean up chromium and other volatile compounds left behind.

To tag Bob Hope Airport, which took over the site in the late 1970s, simply because it sits over part of the contamination area is disingenuous. Even if there are more than a dozen companies and trusts listed in the EPA order, any share of $108 million won't be small, especially for a self-sufficient and reliant entity like the airport.

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While there are instances where, for whatever reason, the government must hold the current land owners responsible to some degree if the original polluters are no longer solvent. Clearly, this is not the case. Hopefully, this liability issue will be settled outside the court system and not incur any more costs than what has already been unnecessary.

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