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Case Summary: EPA issues Order for Aerojet General Corporation Superfund Site
On September 20, 2011, EPA issued an order to Aerojet Corporation requiring them to conduct a $60 million cleanup of rocket fuel-polluted groundwater at the Aerojet General Corporation Superfund Site in Rancho Cordova, Calif. This groundwater cleanup represents the latest phase of a long-term decontamination project at the site. The extent of the toxic pollution at the site makes it one of the largest and most comprehensive Superfund groundwater cleanups in California.
EPA approved the first groundwater cleanup for a small, highly populated section of the Aerojet site in 2001. In the September 2011 enforcement orders, Aerojet must fund and construct a water treatment facility that will limit water contamination within set boundaries and purify some 25 million gallons of groundwater daily in order to prevent the loss of additional drinking water supplies.
Aerojet General Corporation has operated at the Rancho Cordova site since 1953. Its operations included manufacturing liquid and solid propellants for rocket engines for military and commercial use, and formulating chemicals including rocket propellant agents, agricultural pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and other industrial chemicals. Also, the Cordova Chemical Company, a subsidiary of Aerojet, operated chemical manufacturing facilities on the Aerojet property from 1974 to 1979.
Aerojet General Corporation Superfund Site
The Aerojet General Corporation Superfund site covers 5,900 acres near Rancho Cordova, 15 miles east of Sacramento. The site was listed on the National Priorities List in 1983. The aquifer beneath the Aerojet facility and the Rancho Cordova area is part of the San Joaquin groundwater basin. This basin provides drinking water to over a million residents in Sacramento County and nearby areas.
More information on the Aerojet General Corporation Superfund Site is available from Region 9's website.
Pollutants and Environmental Effects
Aerojet and Cordova Chemical Company disposed of unknown quantities of hazardous waste chemicals, including TCE and other chemicals associated with rocket propellants, as well as various chemical processing wastes. Some wastes were disposed of in surface impoundments, landfills, deep injection wells, leachate fields, and some were disposed by open burning. A 27-square mile swath of groundwater underneath and around the former aerospace facility is polluted with several compounds, including very high levels of perchlorate -- a main component of rocket fuel -- and a known developmental toxin.
Summary of the Agreement
Under the direction of EPA, Aerojet will contain the underground plume to prevent it from spreading into nearby rivers and streams. The widespread contamination at the site will require at least five additional cleanup plans for groundwater and soil over the coming decade. EPA will continue to oversee the company's efforts and actively monitor a large number of wells at the site to assess the efficacy of the groundwater containment system. The agency is also working with state and local environmental regulatory partners, including the state water board and department of toxic substances control.
For more information, contact:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2272A)
Washington, DC 20460