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Water Co. Starts Cleaning Up Contaminants

Valencia Water Co. has begun the process to clean up a well in the

Santa Clara River that was found in April to be contaminated with perchlorate. On Friday, the water company began using an ion-exchange treatment system to remove perchlorate from water in the well, located beneath the river near Bouquet Canyon Road and Newhall Ranch Road. It is the first well in the Santa Clarita Valley to be treated. “It is an important first for protecting our local ground water supply,” said Robert DiPrimio, president of Valencia Water Co. Whittaker-Bermite and its insurers are paying more than $500,000 to clean up the well. Financing for the operation of a treatment system for the Valencia Water Co. well will be supplied by Whittaker-Bermite until perchlorate contamination is neutralized on the nearby property that once served as a munitions manufacturing site. “Treatment will be required as long as there is perchlorate in the water,” DiPrimio said, adding that there was no set time for how long the cleanup could take.  “It depends upon source control measures that Whittaker is implementing in the alluvial aquifer upstream from the well,” he said. The ion-exchange treatment system has been approved by the state Department of Health Services. The method is successfully in use at locations in the San Gabriel Valley , San Bernardino and Riverside . Water from the well was found to be tainted with perchlorate in early April. The active shallow-water well was turned off as soon as the results came in, DiPrimio said earlier. Perchlorate contamination has forced the closure of five other wells near the Whittaker-Bermite site. The chemical, a component of rocket fuel, has been linked with thyroid problems in humans. Perchlorate was discovered in 1997 in four deep-water wells near the Whittaker-Bermite site, made up of nearly 1,000 acres of empty land south of Saugus Speedway and east of San Fernando Road . Another shallow well was shut down in 2000 when perchlorate was discovered there. Santa Clarita water purveyors filed a lawsuit against Whittaker in 2001, and settlement talks are under way. The move to clean up the single Valencia Water Co. well forms a separate agreement. The state Department of Toxic Substances Control is overseeing the ongoing cleanup of the Whittaker site.

This story can be found in Saturday's Signal Newspaper.