Wednesday, December 5, 2012

EPA to clean up chemical laden property of a former owner of a pyrotechnic company

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week will begin excavating areas of perchlorate-contaminated soil on and around a residential property  in Barstow, CA. The residence had been occupied by the former owner of Mojave Pyrotechnics, Inc., a defunct pyrotechnics manufacturing company that operated in the 1980’s.

Perchlorate is both a naturally occurring and man-made chemical that is used to produce rocket fuel, fireworks, flares and explosives.

EPA will remove approximately 1100 tons the  contaminated soil, down three feet into the ground—the equivalent of 50 truckloads. The soil will be disposed of at the U.S. Ecology landfill. The excavated areas will be capped with a layer of plastic and then backfilled with clean soil. Removal action may take up to three weeks to complete.

EPA has collected a total of 340 soil samples from 70 locations to determine the areas of contamination. Data from these samples shows two areas, the garden and trash pile areas, within the northwestern parcel of the site with perchlorate levels in the soil that exceed the EPA’s Regional Screening Levels of 55 mg/kg. Because these areas with elevated levels are readily accessible to on-site residents, future workers and the casual trespasser and are a potential source of further groundwater contamination, the agency determined that the contaminated soil needed to be removed to ensure the protection of public health.

Research indicates that this contaminant can disrupt the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal growth and development.  

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