United States
                 Environmental Protection
                            Enforcement and
                            Compliance Assurance
                            (2201 A)
EPA 520-F-96-002
    Spring 1996
Superfund At Work
Hazardous Waste Cleanup  Efforts Nationwide
  Operating Industries,
       Inc. Landfill
       Site Profile
 Site J;.
 Nearby Population Affected:

Small, metal "summa canisters," each about the size of a
basketball, were placed in houses for 24 hours and then
removed for laboratory testing. (See page 4.)
           Success in Brief

           Largest Private Party Settlement

           Achieved in Southern California

             The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been
           managing a hazardous waste cleanup program dubbed
           "Superfund" for the last 15 years.  Divided regionally, EPA has
           been enormously successful in the western states of Arizona,
           California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the Pacific Islands. Effective
           enforcement has obtained private party funding for almost 90% of
           all Superfund sites. Under the law, owners and operators of haz-
           ardous waste sites, and generators and transporters of the wastes
           must either conduct site cleanup or pay for state or federal agen-
           cies to do the job.  Powerful joint and several liability provisions
           ensure that potentially responsible parties can be sued together or
           individually for 100% of cleanup costs.  Such provisions give EPA a
           great deal of leverage with violators and have hastened cleanup
           actions nationwide.
             Nowhere has EPA been as successful in leveraging private
           resources than at Operating Industries, Inc. (Oil) in Monterey Park,
           California. In 1991, EPA filed the largest private party settlement
           ever reached for a single site, valued at more than $130 million.
           Combined with three other Oil settlements, more than $248 million
           in state and federal costs have been recovered.  The four separate
                                     consent decrees avoided the litiga-
                                     tion path and mobilized resources
                                     for cleanup.
                                     The Site Today
                                       A state-of-the-art leachate
                                     treatment plant is in operation,
                                     and design of the new thermal
                                     destruction facility is underway.
                                     Construction continues on the
                                     long-term protective cover and
                                     surface water management sys-
                                     tem. The final remedy, to be
                                     selected in 1997, will require 30
                                     years of maintenance.

                 Superfund At Work  • Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
   The Oil Landfill site is
located 10 miles east of down-
town Los Angeles in Monterey
Park, California. The area
around the landfill is heavily
developed with a mix of com-
mercial, industrial, and resi-
dential neighborhoods. The
Pomona Freeway divides the
190-acre site into two parcels
(see map on page 6).
   Once a quarry pit carved out
of the Montebello Hills, the site
converted to landfilling opera-
tions in 1948. Operating Indus-
tries, Inc. purchased the prop-
erty in 1951 and accepted
municipal garbage, commercial
rubbish, industrial solvents,
and hazardous wastes. When
closed in 1984, state officials
A Site Snapshot

estimated the volume at 38
million cubic yards of solid
waste and more than 300 mil-
lion gallons of liquid industrial
wastes. Some areas are 325 feet
thick and slope at a 45-degree
35,000 people live
within a one-mile
radius of the site, and
many homes directly
abut the property.
Methane, a landfill gas
produced when refuse
decomposes, is a serious
problem because of the
explosion and fire poten-
tial. Seasonal precipitation
percolates through the waste,
forming leachate and threaten-
ing the integrity of the slopes.
This toxic leachate contains
volatile organic compounds
(VOCs) including vinyl chlo-
ride, trichloroethylene, ben-
zene, and toluene that have
       made their way into
       the ground water at
       the site.
  Industries, Inc. Site
  Monterey Park, CA

A mountain of garbage towers exceptionally close to homes. Trees at the leading edge serve as
a green belt in Iguala Park, a buffer zone between the landfill and the neighborhood.

                  Superfund At Work •  Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
  3,800 Companies Dump Toxic Wastes on
  the Doorstep of the City of Angels
  Prior to World War II, Los
Angeles was surrounded by
rolling valleys and deep can-
yons where orchards and coy-
otes outnumbered automobiles.
When a local company began
landfilling in the old Montebello
quarry, mixing household trash
with hazardous waste was a
common disposal practice.
Municipal sprawl allowed the
construction of houses and
businesses adjacent to the ever-
growing landfill that eventually
would tower 200 feet above the

Determination Pays Off
  A group of neighbors in
Montebello and Monterey Park
had watched trucks of all de-
scriptions lumber into the com-
munity, dumping their hazard-
ous cargo on a daily basis.
Changing demographics over
the 35-year period brought a
multi-lingual population that
eventually shared a common
goal: shutting down the landfill.
  Communities all over the
country with similar experi-
ences brought public pressure to
Capitol Hill. The 1970s wit-
nessed a flurry of hazardous
waste regulation writing, but by
then thousands of problem
industrial sites existed. In 1980,
Congress thought we could
solve our toxic waste problems
in a few years with a few billion
dollars. Passage of the Compre-
hensive Environmental Re-
sponse, Compensation, and
Liability Act (CERCLA) set
ambitious goals for the newly
established Superfund pro-
gram. No one could guess at
the extent of contamination in
the ground water and soil after
removal of conspicuous drums
and barrels. Indeed, treatment
technologies hadn't been in-
vented; once developed, some
technologies would have to
operate 20 or 30 years to clean
up these sites.

EPA Takes Early Action
   In January 1984, the state
placed the Oil Landfill on the
California Hazardous Waste
Priority List. Two years later,
EPA put the site on the Na-
tional Priorities List (NPL), a
roster of hazardous waste sites
requiring federal intervention.
Within a few months, field
investigators launched a series
of studies to explore the extent
of contamination off site and to
assess existing environmental
controls at the landfill. Using
CERCLA removal authority,
EPA rehabilitated the main gas
flare station, undertook efforts
to stabilize the slopes of the
landfill, and improved erosion
control, surface runoff, and
drainage systems.
   With homes built so close to
the landfill, community rela-
tions efforts began before EPA
listed the site on the NPL. The
continuous process of educat-
ing, informing, and listening to
the people in the community
took a great deal of dedication.
Public meetings and comment
periods brought a deluge of
responses and took EPA into
both kitchens and conference

Site Control and Monitoring
  To manage the diverse list of
problems all demanding atten-
tion at once, EPA divided the
cleanup into categories called
operable units. The first category,
Site Control and Monitoring,
includes a variety of daily site
activities required to maintain
the landfill and environmental
controls.  In 1988, EPA began
negotiations with a group of
hazardous waste generators. In
May 1989, the group agreed to
conduct the daily operations in a
consent decree valued at $66
  Following closure, EPA super-
vised the placement of a soil
cover on the landfill to control
exposure from wind and rain.
Workers installed an under-
ground piping network to cap-
ture and flare methane and other
landfill gases and later installed
new recovery wells and monitor-
ing probes to capture a greater
volume. Repairs to piping and
access roads, soil cover mainte-
nance, and improvements to the
site irrigation system are but a
few "routine operations" that
EPA supervises.

Leachate Treatment
  Toxic liquid forms when
liquid industrial wastes mix with
rain and water. Parties to the
            continued on page 4

                  Superfund At Work • Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
  Companies Dump Toxic Wastes
continued from page 3
1989 consent decree agreed to
construct an on-site treatment
plant for leachate, the second
operable unit. Before construc-
tion of the plant was completed,
12 million  gallons of leachate
were collected and stored in
temporary tanks and then
transported off site for treat-
ment and disposal. Meanwhile,
EPA and the state signed a
second partial consent decree in
September 1991, adding $9
million from additional waste
  The group of companies that
had signed the consent decrees
with EPA and the state formed
a corporation named CURE,
Inc. (Coalition Undertaking
Remedial Efforts). In August
1994, the County Sanitation
Districts of Los Angeles issued a
permit to begin leachate treat-
ment operations at the new Oil
plant. Since September 1994,
CURE has been collecting 4,200
gallons of leachate per day from
wells and other collection sys-
tems installed in the landfill.
Following a series of treatments,
a certified laboratory staffed by
two chemists tests each batch of
effluent before discharge into
county sewer systems.

Landfill Gas Control and
Landfill Cover
  EPA selected the remedy for
gas control in 1988, amending
the plan in 1990 to include the
long-term landfill cover and
surface water management. In
March 1992, EPA reached a
third settlement with 178 par-
ties to construct the landfill
cover and gas control system to
control both surface and below
ground emissions. The group
formed a second corporation
named New CURE, Inc.
  Over the ensuing years,
studies showed that in addition
to methane the gas contained
hazardous substances; EPA was
most concerned about vinyl
chloride, a potential carcinogen.
From November 1992 through
July 1993, technicians collected
660 samples inside 197 homes
using summa cannisters. Re-
sults showed only 4% of homes
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                                                            $ wwtff teleei
                                                      Homts tested for methane

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                                     • Remedial Investifatton begins
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                   Superfund At Work •  Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA • Spring 1996
with elevated vinyl chloride or
methane levels. Temporary gas
control systems were installed
in each of these homes.  EPA
continues to monitor homes for
landfill gas on a regular basis.
  During 1993, New CURE,
Inc. installed over two miles of
new pipelines to more effi-
ciently collect the landfill gas.
Past improvements were lo-
cated primarily on the landfill
property; portions of the new
construction reached to city
streets in Montebello along the
southern and western borders.
In addition, engineers designed
and built new sections of the
pipe system on the surface of
the landfill and made improve-
ments to the flares.
      EPA recently completed an
   evaluation of candidate loca-
   tions for the new thermal de-
   struction facility that will be
   built at the Oil site. The facility
   will be used to treat or destroy
   the landfill gas produced at the
   site and will replace the old
   flares currently being used.
   This facility may also be used to
   recover energy from the landfill
      While cooperative efforts
   continued on various systems,
   EPA's  enforcement team tried to
   convince three companies to
   participate in the cleanup.
   Textile Rubber and Chemical
   Company, Gemini Industries,
   Inc., and Hoechst Celanese
   Corporation collectively dis-
posed of over one million gal-
lons of hazardous waste but
refused to settle.  In November
1993, EPA ordered these three
companies to participate and
informed 50 other parties of
their potential liability at the
   In the meantime, New
CURE, Inc. spent an entire year
trucking in clean clay for prepa-
ration of the comprehensive
landfill cover. Construction
activities will continue into 1996
and are scheduled for comple-
tion by 1999.  The cover will
keep water and oxygen  out,
prevent erosion, and ensure
slope stability during settlement
or seismic events such as earth-
quakes. The cover also will
             continued on page 7
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      Superfund At Work •  Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
Operating Industries, Inc. Landfill Site
                       S OH LANDFILL
                      '  SOUTH PARCEL
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                                                        Gas Pipelines  /J

                                                      .  New Landfill Gas
                                                        Well and Probe
                                                        Drilling Locations

                                                      ® New Auger
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                  Superfund At Work •  Operating Industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
 Companies Dump Toxic Wastes
continued from page 5
enhance overall effectiveness of
the gas control system and
improve the appearance of the
site. Additional landscaping for
the buffer zone in Iguala Park is
part of this effort and includes
trees and shrubs to reduce noise
and dust.

Final Remedy and Ground
Water Treatment
  As part of the ongoing reme-
dial investigation started in
1986, EPA needed to determine
the extent of ground water
contamination. Fortunately, the
migration of contaminants had
not progressed much beyond
the site boundary. Samples
from more than 70 monitoring
wells formed the basis of the
first hydrogeology report com-
pleted in 1992.  Additional
wells were drilled along the
southern edge to test the aqui-
fer, some in the Iguala Park
area. Engineers continue to
take regular samples from the
monitoring wells. Unaffected
by the landfill,  homes and
businesses receive drinking
water from municipal water
companies delivered in closed
pipeline systems.
  Completion  of this overall
investigation in October 1994
set the stage for the Feasibility
Study underway that will
compare different alternatives
for final closure of the landfill.
These options include remedies
for ground water, long-term
operation and maintenance of
all site systems, and incorpora-
tion of previous EPA decisions
on leachate treatment, landfill
gas control, and the compre-
hensive landfill cover.
  When the Feasibility Study
is done, EPA will present the
options for the final remedy in
a Proposed Plan scheduled for
spring 1996. EPA will hold a
public meeting and open a
comment period at that time.
Following the evaluation of
public comments, EPA will
select the final remedy for the

Community Participates in
Site Activities
  The success of EPA's en-
forcement and cleanup efforts
has hinged to a great extent on
the attitudes and involvement
of dedicated homeowners.
Committed to ensuring their
             continued on page 8
  Proposed changes for Iguala Park will provide a more effective "buffer zone" between the landfill
  and the neighborhood. Trees and shrubs will create a pleasant visual screen, and also may help
  reduce noise and dust problems.

                  Superfund At Work •  Operating industries, Inc. Site, Monterey Park, CA •  Spring 1996
continued from page 7

own health, local residents have
patiently endured the dirt and
noise of trucks plying the
streets of their neighborhood,
drilling rigs in their back yards,
and in-home air sampling
   This community serves as a
powerful reminder that no
population should be forced to
shoulder a disproportionate
burden of exposure to environ-
mental pollution.
     Printed with Soy/Canola Ink on paper that
     contains at least 50% recycled fiber
           Success at Operating

    Industries, Inc. Landfill  Site
  Residents in Montebello and Monterey Park have witnessed
major change over the last 10 years, due to continuous EPA in-
volvement at this mammoth Superfund site. Early emergency
actions included improvements to the landfill control systems,
construction of slope stability measures, and installation of effec-
tive landfill gas control systems at nearby residences. Major
elements of the cleanup, such as construction of the on-site
leachate treatment plant, are complete. The gas control and sur-
face water management systems have been designed and will
soon be constructed. Daily maintenance of existing control and
monitoring facilities continues under state and federal oversight.
   EPA is preparing the Feasibility Study to tie together a ground
water remedy with all the remedies previously selected and will
provide for long-term operation and maintenance at the site.
Meanwhile, aggressive and effective enforcement efforts seek to
include potentially responsible parties in settlements for the
interim remedial work and final site remedy.
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