Owners of small Valley business facing massive lawsuit

by Meredith Yeomans
Posted on October 28, 2010 at 9:23 PM

PHOENIX - Above ground, you'd never know one of the largest groundwater contamination plumes in the country is lurking hundreds of feet below the surface.

It's called the West Van Buren plume, and is the reason the Roosevelt Irrigation District recently filed a $40 million lawsuit against 60 defendants.

Defendants include government agencies like the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix, big businesses like Chevron and Shell Oil, and private companies like Willmore Manufacturing.
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RID files $40 million lawsuit to clean up contaminated groundwater


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Courthouse News Service

Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010
Poisoned Water Will Cost $40M, District Says

PHOENIX (CN) - An irrigation district claims the Pentagon, Chevron, Honeywell and dozens of other companies poisoned its wells with carcinogenic chemicals. The Roosevelt Irrigation District says 20 of its wells have been contaminated and another 11 wells are threatened, and that it will cost the irrigation district $40 million to fix the problem.

In its Maricopa County complaint, the irrigation district says the defendants poisoned its wells with trichloroethene, tetrachloroethene, trichloroethane, dichloroethane, dichloroethene and methyl tertiary butyl ether.

The chemicals are used, among other things, to oxygenate gasoline, to scent candles, and in dry cleaning.

The Roosevelt Irrigation District operates about 100 wells to provide water to western Maricopa County.

The dozens of defendants were identified from reports and data held by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the reports, the agencies found traces of the contaminants in soil and groundwater.

Honeywell International reportedly dumped jet fuel at its facilities, and petroleum hydrocarbons were found in the soil at the Chevron facilities.

The district has an "Early Response Action" plan to treat the water by connecting the 10 most contaminated wells to the Salt River canal and building a 20,000 gallon per minute treatment plant in the canal. The district says this will cost it about $40 million.

The irrigation district seeks recovery costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. It is represented by Michael K. Kennedy with Gallagher & Kennedy.