Outside legal services tapped ensuring Scottsdale Superfund clean-up site remains compliant

Scottsdale City Council has approved a contract not to exceed $50,000 with law firm Jennings, Haug & Cunningham to provide environmental legal services in association with the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund.

On July 1, the council approved the resolution on consent at their regular meeting held at City Hall, 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd.
The contract is for legal services for the Superfund matter and the city’s involvement in the site.

An overview of the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund, which is provided by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. (Submitted graphic)

The Superfund site, discovered in southern Scottsdale in 1981, is groundwater contaminated from industrial chemicals — primarily trichloroethylene. According to the city, investigation revealed that the contamination was the result of past improper chemical disposal by several industrial companies in the area.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the contaminated aquifer a Superfund site, namely the North Indian Bend Wash Superfund site, in 1983. The affected area is from Chaparral Road to the north, Pima Road to the east, Scottsdale Road to the west and McKellips Road to the south.

Once the presence of industrial chemicals was discovered, Scottsdale stopped using those wells for drinking water purposes, the city’s website states.

The July City Council request is for outside environmental counsel to provide legal advice to the municipality, a staff report states.

Cleanup responsibilities

The EPA identified the parties potentially responsible for causing the contamination and determined that a long-term cleanup effort would be required, according to the city.

The parties potentially responsible for the contamination and all costs associated with the cleanup include:

  • Motorola Solutions (formally Motorola, Inc.);
  • GlaxoSmithKline (formerly SmithKline Beecham); and
  • SMI Holding LLC (formerly Siemens).

The Arizona Environmental Quality and Department of Water Resources is overseeing the cleanup.

To cleanup the site and return the wells to drinking water use, the potentially responsible parties built the Central Groundwater Treatment Facility, located near Pima and Thomas roads.

This treatment plant is able to treat water pumped from up to four groundwater wells that contain TCE using airstripping, according to city officials.

Scottsdale City Hall is at 3939 N. Drinkwater Blvd. (File photo)

The Central Groundwater Treatment Facility is owned and operated by the city, ensuring the water produced by the plant meets or surpasses all federal and state standards for safe and healthy drinking water.

It is estimated the cleanup of the Superfund site will take approximately 50-plus years, city officials state; however, large portions of the groundwater plume cleanup should be completed before that time.

As of monitoring in 2016, the upper aquifer plume has decreased in size by 90 percent, the total mass of contaminants in the upper aquifer groundwater has decreased by over 98 percent. Cleanup will continue in the middle and lower aquifer until they reach the same level of cleanup, which city officials say will likely take more than 50 years.

Northeast Valley News Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable. Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the arrow in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment