City Manager Ed Tewes critical of draft order on perchlorate in
Olin Corp. has one year to declare its intentions for cleaning perchlorate from the Llagas groundwater basin that was contaminated by the company’s former road-flare factory site in Morgan Hill, according to a draft cleanup order released Friday.

The order received mostly encouraging reviews, but disappointed Morgan Hill officials who said it didn’t go far enough to protect residents whose water supply is contaminated but not covered by the cleanup order.

“There is no protection for the 35,000 residents who get their water supply from Morgan Hill’s wells,” said City Manager Ed Tewes. “There’s an order for every area but ours, and I’m concerned we may have lost an opportunity.”

The order issued by the state Central Coast Regional Water Board requires Olin to map the exact width and length of the perchlorate plume flowing south and east from the site, determine to what extent the plume is expanding or shrinking, measure the concentration of perchlorate at various depths within the basin, evaluate alternate cleanup systems and propose a final cleanup plan.

It does not cover the so-called northeast flow which affects some of Morgan Hill’s supply wells. Olin has conducted research that it say proves it is not responsible for that contamination.

The Regional Board has ordered Olin to conduct further tests, perhaps using a new forensic testing method. Olin has appealed that order and will argue its case in a hearing slated for late March.

“We are concerned that Olin’s resistance to taking responsibility for the northeast flow is being played out in the regional board with two different approaches, rather than one comprehensive approach,” Tewes said. “I understand why Olin is resisting, because it’s the most expensive part of the cleanup. But I don’t understand why the regional board isn’t pushing Olin to clean it up.”

Other officials and residents were more forgiving in their initial assessments of the order. San Martin resident Sylvia Hamilton, chairwoman of the Perchlorate Community Advisory Group, said that at first glance the order proves the regional board “is definitely listening to the community.

“We’ve said from the get-go that want we want is to contain the plume, clean it up and set timelines, so I’m very pleased with those aspects.”

If the regional board ultimately concludes that Olin is responsible for the northeast plume, it will be subject to an additional cleanup order.

Rick McClure, project manager for Olin, said the northeast plume is the only “rather litigious” issue at this time. Otherwise, he said, Olin saw no immediate reason to fight the order.

Gilroy Dispatch reporter Matt King covers Santa Clara County. He can be reached at [email protected] or 847-7240.

Previous articleSolving security problems at Boys Ranch
Next articleChip shots: Sobrato girls soccer routs PV; Britton sweeps into playoffs
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here