State sues current, ex-owners of Elmira plant over toxic cleanup

ELMIRA , Calif. – The past and current owners of a former wood preservation plant are being sued for costs of cleanup and damages by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

The agency said the old plant leaked arsenic, chromium and copper for years, and the state had to bear much of the cleanup and monitoring costs of the site.

"We are going to aggressively pursue those that owe us money and make sure that the taxpayers are not stuck with the bill," the DTSC said in a statement.

According to the DTSC, most of the contaminated soil has been removed. The state wants to get back more than $2 million it spent to clean up and monitor a toxic plume that extended more than a mile underground.

DTSC claims contamination had been detected in four agricultural wells that some residents used to water their yards, but that remediation work had kept chemicals at safe levels.

Some residents still worry about what people may have been exposed to over the years.

"This is agricultural land here," said Renee Bouyer, a teacher at Sierra Solano School just across the street from the site. "So, it is a concern, sure. We eat this food."

The site's current owner David Van Over is one of the defendants in the suit. He said he's pleased the state is taking action.

"It's about time the state is doing the right thing to collect the money," Van Over said. "They've delayed for 40 years on collecting funds I think they could have gone after fairly easily."

Van Over said he has cooperated fully with the state and does not believe he'll face significant liability for the contamination that happened years before.

The other defendants are, Jim Dobbas, Inc, of Placerville, Continental Rail, Inc, Pacific Wood Preserving, and West Coast Wood Preserving, LLC.


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