The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement with 40 parties to complete cleanup activities at the Cooper Drum Superfund site in South Gate, Los Angeles County.

From 1974 until 1992, this 3.8-acre site was used by the Cooper Drum Company to recondition used steel drums from industrial customers, such as chemical manufacturers, chemical packagers and oil companies. The 55-gallon steel drums, which contained residual oils and solvents, were washed and prepared for reuse. Residual wastes from the drums, primarily volatile organic compounds such as trichloroethylene (TCE), spilled and leaked on the site, contaminating soils and groundwater.

Under the settlement announced on Tuesday, former customers of the drum reconditioning business will pay an estimated $15 million to construct an additional groundwater treatment system, including wells, piping and treatment costs, plus $7 million to reimburse the EPA for its past cleanup work at the Superfund site.

Over the last 14 years, the agency has overseen the design, construction and operation of soil and groundwater treatment systems to clean up TCE, lead, PCBs and petroleum hydrocarbons at the site. The soil vapor extraction system has removed over 742 pounds of chemicals from affected soils, while the groundwater extraction system has treated more than 17 million gallons of contaminated groundwater.

“Today’s settlement is a binding commitment to pursue the final cleanup of this former industrial site,” commented Jared Blumenfeld, EPA regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal is to protect the residents of South Gate from the toxic chemicals that have contaminated their local groundwater.”

All water supplied to residents and businesses in South Gate meets state and federal drinking water standards.