jet propulsion laboratory (nasa)


The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a 176-acre site in Pasadena, California. The area is primarily residential with some light commercial operations. The site is bordered by the San Gabriel Mountains on the north, an equestrian club and the local Fire Station on the south, a residential neighborhood on the west, and the Arroyo Seco Dry Wash on the east. The Army developed and operated JPL between 1945 and 1957. In 1958, jurisdiction was transferred to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The California Institute of Technology conducts research and development at JPL under a NASA contract in the areas of aeronautics, space technology, and space transportation. JPL's primary activities include the exploration of the earth and solar system by automated spacecraft and the design and operation of the Global Deep Space Tracking Network. Sources of contamination at the site include approximately 35 seepage pits where liquid and solid wastes were reportedly disposed of, a settling chamber in the JPL storm drain system, contaminated soil excavated from part of that system, and an area where waste solvents were dumped into three separate holes. Hazardous substances located at JPL include waste solvents, solid rocket fuel propellants, cooling tower chemicals, sulfuric acid, freon, mercury, and chemical laboratory wastes. In 1990, JPL detected significantly elevated levels of contaminants in the groundwater underneath and down-gradient of the site. Due to volatile organic compound (VOC) contamination in the groundwater, four municipal wells were shut down between 1989 and 1990 and two Lincoln Avenue Water Company wells were shut down in 1987. NASA installed treatment systems, and municipal wells began operating again in October of 1990. The Lincoln Avenue Water Company also has installed a treatment system on its wells, which are again operational. Approximately 120,840 people live within 4 miles of the site; an estimated 68,000 people obtain drinking water from municipal wells within 4 miles of the site. The Pasadena wells were shut down again in 2001 because of perchlorate (a component of solid rocket fuel) contamination. The perchlorate plume reached the Lincoln Avenue wells at levels above the State of California standards in 2004 and NASA paid for the installation of an ion-exchange/carbon filter treatment system. In March 2011, NASA completed the construction of the Monk Hill Treatment System for Pasadena Water and Power to address the perchlorate contamination in the Pasadena wells. Treated groundwater from both the Lincoln Avenue Treatment Plant and the Monk Hill Treatment System complies with all State of California Drinking Water standards and are delivered to the respective drinking water conveying systems. The EPA and NASA have negotiated a Federal Facilities Agreement that requires NASA to conduct the cleanup efforts at the site.

Hazardous Ranking Score

50 / 100

A score of 28.5 or higher qualifies a site for the Superfund National Priority List.

Regional Contact

Region 9
Phone: (415) 947-4251

Contact Region



Site Inspection
Preliminary Assessment
Final Listing On NPL

Contaminants & Health Effects

      Endocrine Disrupter
      Reproductive Toxin
      Persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic


        African American
        American Indian and Alaska Native
        Native Hawaiian


        People living
        within a 1 mile radius


        Average Income


        Occupied homes

        Potentially Responsible Parties

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