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Northrop Grumman-U.S. Agreements: Cause and Effect?


Nuclear aircraft carrier T. Roosevelt

Nuclear aircraft carrier T. Roosevelt

Call it robbing the Pentagon to pay Paul. Wednesday  defense-contracting giant Northrop Grumman announced it had won two bids with the Army and Navy worth nearly $6 billion -- then Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency said it had reached a settlement with Northrop for it to pay $21 million to help clean up the old Aerojet Superfund site, whose fuel-contaminated groundwater lies beneath the cities of Industry, Walnut and La Puente. Century City-based Northrup Grumman, which bought parts of Aerojet in 2001, was the principle negotiator in nearly a decade of talks with the EPA, representing 60 facilities that used highly toxic degreasing and cleaning compounds at the San Gabriel Valley site.

Northrop scored a $3.44 billion contract to support the Air Force's fleet of B-2 Stealth bombers, which will be good news for its Palmdale facility and the Antelope Valley economy. The deal worth up to $2.43 billion to refuel and overhaul the Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The latter job will involve 3,800 workers -- in Virginia.

Yesterday's EPA statement quoted Keith Takata,

director of the Superfund program of the U.S. EPA's Pacific Southwest

Office, who declared, "This settlement requires cleanup of the groundwater at the Puente

Valley Operable Unit Superfund Site, which is an important step toward

restoring this valuable source of drinking water."

In the past Northrop had been accused by some of getting handled with kid gloves

by the Bush administration's EPA. Perhaps feeling flush with its war-toys profits, the company figured this was a good time to break out the champagne

-- and bring out the Superfund mops.