July 31, 2008
Harbor Gateway Superfund Site Enters Final Phase to Get Cleaned Up
By Kristin S. Agostoni
Federal regulators tonight will discuss plans for removing contaminated soil and sludge from a 280-acre site in Harbor Gateway - marking the final phase of an effort that began more than a decade ago. Superfund Site news
The area was once home to a World War II-era synthetic-rubber plant - a use that left much of the soil and groundwater laced with toxic substances. What is Superfund?
The Environmental Protection Agency, which is overseeing the cleanup, is holding a meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn at 19800 S. Vermont Ave., where project managers and consultants will present proposals to remove soil contaminants and take questions from the public.
The EPA has already started preparing a feasibility study for the third part of the site cleanup and hopes to release a proposed plan at the end of the year. The agency would then take public comment for at least 30 days, said EPA project manager Dante Rodriguez.
"The point of our meeting is to start educating people," he said. "Particularly targeted for outreach is the business community that either owns or operates businesses on the property. We would like to engage folks more now that we're in the midst of a feasibility study."
The cleanup involves the rectangular tract bordered by 190th Street, Pacific Gateway, Hamilton Avenue and Del Amo Boulevard. Buildings in the area are used by Westwood College, Phoenix International and Calvary Chapel, among others. Officials there could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The former rubber plant was built by the government in 1943 to supply the war effort with tires for military vehicles.
The operation consisted of a styrene plant operated by Dow Chemical Co., a butadiene plant run by Shell Oil Co., and a synthetic rubber plant run by U.S. Rubber Co., Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. and others.
In 1955, the government sold the land to Shell, which continued to operate the plant until 1971. Toxic waste, including volatile organic compounds such as benzene, toluene and naphthalene, has contaminated the soil and underlying groundwater.
The EPA has broken the clean-up effort into three parts, Rodriguez said, first by creating a remediation plan for waste pits lining Del Amo Boulevard, and then by targeting the groundwater supply.
The final phase centers on the soil contaminants, including a gooey liquid that threatens the groundwater.
Rodriguez said the agency is looking at a "variety of technologies and approaches" that would rid the site of the various toxicants, including sealing them in with a cap and creating a soil gas-extraction system to suck them from the ground. More shallow contaminants could be excavated, he added.
Because the liquid is too thick to be sucked out of the ground, one proposal is to inject it with chemicals that would create a vapor that can be captured and extracted, Rodriguez said.
Jose Garcia, EPA community involvement coordinator, said none of the proposals would force businesses in the area to evacuate or relocate.
In some cases where buildings are protected by a concrete slab, remediation plans might be necessary only if the properties are redeveloped, he said. In those instances, contractors pulling permits with the city of Los Angeles would be advised to contact environmental regulators.
"If they find that the soil directly beneath the slab is contaminated, they'll look at the proper remediation," Garcia said.
Despite the size of the Del Amo Superfund site and the number of buildings occupying the industrial park, Garcia said, the EPA has handled much larger clean-up efforts. A contaminated plume beneath the Tucson International Airport, for example, extended five miles, he said.
WANT TO GO?
What: Community meeting on the Environmental Protection Agency's plans for cleaning up contaminated soil at the Del Amo Superfund Site in Harbor Gateway.
Where: Holiday Inn, Gateway Rooms 2 and 3, 19800 S. Vermont Ave.
When: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. today.
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