November 10, 2004
The Gilbert Town Council met in closed session Tuesday to discuss whether to file a lawsuit against a company accused of contaminating groundwater and soil.
Gilbert has hired special counsel to represent the town in a case against Simon New Mexico and other responsible parties, but the town has not moved forward with a federal lawsuit.
"That’s what we need to talk to the council about," Gilbert attorney Kelly Schwab said.
Gilbert announced in June 2003 that an industrial solvent was discovered in groundwater and soil, but not in the drinking water. Monitoring wells have confirmed the presence of perchloroethylene, or PCE, in the upper aquifer where the groundwater flows. The solvent has never reached the lower aquifer and drinking water, Gilbert and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality officials said.
The state discovered the solvent in 1990 at a former copper sulfate production site southeast of Cooper and Guadalupe roads. A facility operated there between 1979 and 1983 under the name Unichem. Gilbert and DEQ believe Simon New Mexico is the successor to Unichem.
The final cleanup cost has not been determined.
DEQ director Steve Owens said the agency may first ask Simon New Mexico to voluntarily clean up the site. If that fails, it can issue an order for the firm to clean it up.
An attempt to reach a Simon New Mexico attorney was unsuccessful.