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EPA focuses on water clean-up

Results of survey will aid in agency┬┐s communications with locals, federal officials say

September 14, 2011|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials are interviewing Burbank and Glendale residents to get feedback on their ongoing efforts to clean up decades-old contaminated ground water.

The confidential, 30-minute interviews were conducted this week and will be summarized in a final community involvement plan. Another set of interviews is slated for Sept. 27 to 29.

“The interview data gathered helps EPA to better understand the community concerns and to develop a plan of action to address them,” agency spokesman Francisco Arcaute said.

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The agency plans to use the feedback to help improve communication with communities, he said. The plan also promotes community involvement in the cleanup and investigation of contaminated sites.

Local water contains small amounts of chromium 6 due to decades-old underground contamination in the San Fernando industrial corridor.

Officials have assured the public that there is no health risk, since the contaminated water is blended with untainted water from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Glendale officials also continue to work with stakeholders on methods for stripping underground water of the cancer-causing element.

In July, Glendale Water & Power received $400,000 from the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation to fund a microfiltration study on the removal of chromium 6 from water supplies, officials said.

Two high-tech methods, which began operating in April 2010, have been stripping water of the contaminant at two pilot facilities in Glendale, Utility Civil Engineer Leighton Fong said.

“We are getting some good data,” he said.

Current testing puts the level of chromium 6 in water coming out of the test facilities at 1 part per billion, Fong said. The contaminant is limited to between 6 and 50 parts per billion under state law.

The agency said cleanup systems have removed 240,000 pounds of chemicals in more than two decades from polluted ground water in the San Fernando Valley Ground Water Basin.

The systems in Burbank, Glendale, North Hollywood and Los Angeles are part of a series of extraction wells and pipes that treat and pump polluted water.

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