Though home to gently rolling hills and a rural Central Coast village vibe, the town of Casmalia is best known as Santa Barbara County’s toxic dumping grounds, the place where, from 1973 to 1989, 5.6 billion pounds of questionable and often poisonous waste from nearly 10,000 different sources was left to fester. Cleaning up the area has been a major task for the past couple decades, but finding who will pick up the $284 million pricetag has been an equally troublesome challenge for the federal managers of the site, today known ominously as the Casmalia Resources Superfund site.
This week, the ninth in a series of those payment hurdles was cleared by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which settled a $2 million deal with 290 individual dumpers, ranging from the Cate School and the City of Costa Mesa to the State of Hawaii and Bausch & Lomb Corporation. The deal, which amounts to about 9 cents per each pound of hazardous waste deposited at the site by each entity, also clears the involved parties of any future legal claims related to the natural resources of the site, including government concerns over endangered species and habitats.
To date, $110 million of the $284 million has been collected.