Trucks Set to Roll Through County : Acid Waste Shift Upsets Santa Barbara

Times Staff Writer

Santa Barbara County supervisors Thursday authorized their attorney to challenge the state health department's plan to truck excavated waste from the McColl dump in Fullerton through their county, saying additional environmental study is needed.

Santa Barbara County Counsel Kenneth Nelson said he would seek a temporary restraining order next week to block the cleanup pending further analysis on the impact of the plan, which will route 40 waste-loaded trucks a day onto state and federal highways through Santa Barbara and other communities in the county.

Casmalia to Get Waste Excavation of the smelly refinery acid waste, which lies beneath a vacant field and part of a golf course in a Fullerton residential neighborhood, is scheduled to begin early next month. The cleanup, to be financed primarily with federal funds, will cost from $25 million to $28 million.

The waste is to be disposed of at the Casmalia landfill, located west of Santa Maria and about 200 miles northwest of Fullerton.

Santa Barbara County Supervisor Toru Miyoshi charged that the state has focused on the cleanup plan's potential impact on Orange and Los Angeles counties. But he added:

"While the review around the Fullerton area is very comprehensive, there is a lack of studies and research for Santa Barbara County."

The supervisors were responding to the action Monday by the state Department of Health Services in Sacramento, which sought to "categorically exempt" the McColl cleanup plan from state law that requires environmental impact reports on most government projects and major private developments.

Notices were sent to four counties along the planned McColl route, giving Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara counties 35 days to "challenge" the exemption by filing a lawsuit, according to Florence Pearson, a health department spokeswoman.

If no lawsuits are filed, then the exemption will stand, she said. If it is challenged, then a court will decide whether the exemption is merited, she added.

Pearson said the exemption states that so many environmental reports and studies have been conducted on the planned cleanup of the World War II refinery acid dump site, nocq separate environmental impact report is necessary.

However, Miyoshi said Santa Barbara County is concerned about having trucks travel on Highway 101, which goes through Santa Barbara, and onto a state highway that winds through the community of Los Alamos.

In addition, he said, a recent federal Environmental Protection Agency decision requiring extra precautions at the Casmalia landfill will delay disposal of the McColl waste for two months.

The state plans to temporarily store the waste at the landfill, while a double-liner container to prevent soil contamination is constructed. But Miyoshi said the environmental impact of temporarily storing and then disposing of the waste has not been analyzed.

Miyoshi, who represents the north Santa Barbara County region adjacent to the Casmalia landfill, said he finds it "quite odd" that the cleanup of a major hazardous waste site does not require the preparation of a full-fledged environmental impact report.

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