The Meaning of Hahamongna

The original settlers of the region were sometimes called the Hahamongna Indians. The word means "Flowing Waters, Fruitful Valley" in the native Tongva language.

Hahamongna News

Title:

Get busy, stop polluted plume

Subtitle:

Date:

2004-02-20

Author:

Editorial

Publication:

Pasadena Star News

Content:

IF slow and steady indeed win the race, then NASA and the EPA are champions in the detection and treatment of ground-water pollution in Pasadena. However, their efforts are being outflanked by an advancing toxic plume that has contaminated nine Pasadena wells, resulting in their shut down, and has reached two water wells in Altadena operated by Lincoln Avenue Water Company.

NASA's announcement that it will start construction this month on a new plant to remove VOCs and perchlorate, or rocket fuel, from groundwater beneath JPL is welcome news. Perchlorate has reached as high as 13,300 parts per billion there and the VOC known as carbon tetrachloride has reached as high as 102 parts per billion.

Perchlorate can interfere with thyroid function, especially in pregnant women and their fetuses, while VOCs can cause cancer at high levels. Pasadena Water & Power did the right thing by closing the nine wells when high levels of pollution were detected in 1997. Levels in Lincoln Avenue's wells are low enough to keep them operating. While the public is being protected from exposure, the toxic plume is moving and wreaking more havoc on our underground basin, our water supply.

In addition, aside from the obvious health threat, ground-water pollution is an invisible, endemic blight on our region. Its presence stops any development from taking place, leaves behind brownfields and sullies the region's image.

Pollution is believed to stem from the 1940s and 1950s when the site was occupied by Army Air Corp. In 1992, the EPA declared it a Superfund site, requiring NASA to identify the problem and clean it up. Again, the initiation this month of the cleanup of the "hot spot' below JPL will damp the pollution flow, but the delay has caused the problem to get worse. Cleanup down stream of the Pasadena wells must proceed more rapidly; delays only spread the problem and increase the cost of cleanup.

NASA's response as to when Pasadena's nine wells would be usable once again, "still decades out,' is unacceptable. Perchlorate treatment, once experimental, is now a demonstrable, best-available control technology. On Wednesday, the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority unveiled the third such plant that will remove perchlorate from the groundwater in the Baldwin Park-Azusa plume.

NASA/JPL cannot use the excuse that they need more time to research how to treat perchlorate it's being done here in the San Gabriel Valley.

We agree with Lincoln Avenue Water Company General Manager Bob Hayward, who told our reporter Lisa Faught in a Jan. 25 article, "The sooner you get started, the sooner the plume stops spreading.'

That's a mantra that should be posted on the project manager's bulletin board.

callout: We applaud NASA/JPL's efforts to clean up toxic ground-water at JPL. The long overdue effort needs to move ahead more rapidly so contaminated wells are restored.