NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory will present officials of the city of Pasadena with checks totaling $1.125 million March 7, in connection with the contamination of four water wells in the nearby NASA facility.

The amount will help pay the city's past costs incurred by the contamination of four wells and is a first payment toward installation of a temporary treatment plant to decontaminate the water from those wells.

It is part of a total of more than $3 million JPL will pay the city over three years under terms of a recently negotiated agreement.

Contamination by volatile organic chemicals was found in the city's water wells in the early 1980s. The city has taken the position that JPL was the source of the contamination, believed to have occurred during the 1940s and 1950s as the result of the disposition of solvents and other cleaning materials while JPL was a U.S. Army ballistic missile facility.

JPL has not accepted liability for the contamination but has worked with the city to build an appropriate plant and has agreed to contribute significantly to its costs.

The temporary treatment plant should deal with the contamination problem for at least the next three to five years and negotiations concerning a long term solution will be postponed until the temporary plant has been demonstrated.

This plan will give Pasadena and JPL time to learn more about the contamination and JPL's responsibility and will avoid having to design a permanent plant while the problems are not yet fully understood.

The agreement for the treatment plant is the successful culmination of negotiations between the City of Pasadena and JPL and it will permit the affected wells to be returned to service and supply safe water to the community.

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