CITY HALL — The City Attorney’s Office announced a $39.5 million settlement with the Boeing Corporation to clean contaminants out of the water in the Olympic well field left behind by the former Douglas Aircraft Co.

According to Assistant City Attorney Joseph Lawrence, Boeing will pay $150,000 within the first 30 days of the settlement. The remainder will be paid out over the course of the next 10 years.

Under the terms of the settlement, City Hall will be responsible for treating the water it pumps from the Olympic Well Field, and Boeing will have to do any other clean up required by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board at various sites.

Those locations include 2902 Exposition Blvd., 1909 Centinela Ave. and 2341 to 2425 Michigan Ave.

Boeing will not admit liability or responsibility for any claims of contamination, according to the settlement.

Although the aerospace company will pay the settlement, it is actually the Douglas Aircraft Co., a major player in the aircraft industry during World War II and former employer in Santa Monica, that can be blamed for the contamination at what is now the Verizon maintenance yard.

The company used industrial solvents called PCE and TCE for degreasing, chemicals which were later discovered in the Olympic basin, said Gil Borboa, the water resources manager with City Hall.

“That was back in the time where chemical handling processes were not as careful as they are today,” Borboa said.

Douglas Aircraft was eventually bought by a company that came to be known as McDonnell Douglas. That company was bought by Boeing in 1997.

Santa Monicans are already using water out of the contaminated well, which is treated using an “old school” process, Borboa said.

The water is aerated, similar to running it through sprinklers, which turns the chemicals into vapor. That air is then sent through carbon scrubbers which removes the contaminants.

Ultimately, City Hall would like to build a water treatment facility that would not only take the solvents out of the water, but contaminants that might cause problems in the future, Borboa said.

City Hall opened the Arcadia water treatment facility one year ago to treat water from the Charnock Wells that had been sullied with methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), another industrial solvent.

If officials choose to build a new one, it would target the new chemicals as well as any others that they expect to find in the future.

For instance, Borboa’s office has identified another solvent called 1,4-dioxane that is currently within acceptable levels, but may not be in the future.

“We’ll take a hard look for everything in that basin and build a facility that could treat everything,” Borboa said.

At the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, City Manager Rod Gould cautioned council members to hold onto the cash so that a new facility could eventually be built.

The settlement is closely modeled after a 2010 settlement with the Gillette Corporation, the company that paid out for contamination of the Olympic Well Field caused by industrial processes at the former Papermate site, Lawrence said.

That deal involved similar chemicals and helped create the framework for the Boeing deal.

“It sends a message to other parties that the city is serious,” Lawrence said.

The attorney had no comment when asked if there were any future water contaminant settlements in the offing.

“We’re pleased, and it’s good to get this behind us,” Lawrence said.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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