State Planning to Appeal Court Delay on McColl Cleanup Work

Times Staff Writer

The state will appeal a decision that could delay for up to 18 months the transfer of toxic petroleum waste from the McColl dump in Fullerton to a disposal facility in Kern County, a deputy attorney general said Tuesday.

The state Department of Health Services will seek to overturn a preliminary injunction granted Friday by Superior Court Judge Walter Croskey, who ruled that health officials must complete an environmental impact report (EIR) on the $26-million project before work can begin.

State health officials contend that under the state Environmental Quality Act, they are exempt from having to do an environmental review, which they say would take six to 18 months. They also argued during a six-day court hearing that the Petroleum Waste Inc. disposal site near the farming community of Buttonwillow already is licensed to handle the kind of waste found in the McColl dump.

But Croskey agreed with Kern County officials and Buttonwillow residents who claimed that the disposal facility was not intended to take any waste other than that generated by nearby oil fields.


Deputy Atty. Gen. Susan Durbin said the appeal would be filed “within a couple of days” in a state appeal court. She declined to be specific about the grounds for appealing Croskey’s order but said it should be made clear whether the state is or is not exempt from the EIR requirements.

The McColl dump was created in the mid-1940s when oil companies, producing World War II aviation fuel, deposited waste materials in 12 sumps on the site. The dumpsite now is under a vacant field and a part of a golf course at Los Coyotes Country Club and is bordered on three sides by homes.

State health officials said the soil contains sulfuric acid, benzene and arsenic. Residents contend that fumes cause health problems.