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Company to pay $68 million to Clean City Water Supply

By Jonathan Friedman
Lookout Staff

November 13, 2009 --Procter & Gamble Co. has agreed to pay the City of Santa Monica $68 million to clean contaminated groundwater near the former Paper Mate plant. The company will also clean contaminated soil at the plant site by 2012.

The City Council approved the agreement at its meeting on Tuesday. The deal must also receive the blessing of the Regional Water Quality Control Board.

From 1957 to 2006, pens were manufactured at the Paper Mate plant, located on 26th Street and Olympic Boulevard. Chemicals from the operation are blamed for polluting the nearby groundwater. There are three City wells in the area.

The Gillette Co. owned Paper Mate until 2000. P&G purchased Gillette in 2005.

City Council member Kevin McKeown applauded the deal in an e-mail to the Lookout News.

“Our settlement guarantees Santa Monicans that ground pollution will be cleaned up and our underground water supplies made whole,” McKeown wrote
He continued, “Santa Monica will regain even more of our water independence, reducing the need to purchase water from regional sources, and the general environmental health of formerly industrial sites near the Mid-City and Pico neighborhoods will be improved.”

Regional Water issued P&G a Cleanup and Abatement Order for the site last year. The company attempted to fight the order, arguing that it was not the only polluter of the groundwater and that the Order did not give P&G adequate time to comply with the Orders’ demands.

Regional Water’s vote on the agreement will be based on how it fits with the Order. Regional Water officials could not be reached for comment for this article.

P&G spokesperson Paul Fox said the company was pleased to reach an agreement with the City.

“Clearly, we have been committed to working with local authorities over many years concerning the remediation of the Santa Monica site,” Fox said. “And we’re clearly delighted that this matter has now reached a successful conclusion.”

The $68 will be paid out over a period of more than 10 years. The City will receive about half the money in the first three years. P&G will continue with spread out the remaining payments during the nine years that follow.

Meanwhile, McKeown says City officials are not done with their efforts to ensure a clean water supply in Santa Monica.

“Although this settlement addresses the major problems with our water wells along Olympic, the City will continue a good faith effort to make other contributing polluters pay their fair share,” McKeown wrote.

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