Orange : Tests at Leak Site Show Little Contamination

Preliminary results Tuesday from soil tests taken at an Orange plastics manufacturing firm, where an underground tank in July leaked hazardous fumes and forced the evacuation of nearly 300 people, showed that the contamination is minimal, an official with Fiberite West Coast Corp. said Tuesday.

Friday, workers unearthed a 6,000-gallon underground tank that Fiberite used to store 3,700 gallons of phenolic resin, a synthetic product used to reinforce plastics that the company used to make fiberglass for airplanes, manager John Rand said.

On July 29, either heat or contamination created a chemical reaction that released fumes from the tank, an Orange County Fire Department investigator said. Fiberite discontinued use of the phenolic resin shortly after.

Preliminary data released Tuesday showed that the soil where the tank had been located contained less than five parts per million of hydrocarbons, Rand said. Phenolic resin is a hydrocarbon. Under state and federal standards, 10 parts per million has been considered acceptable in the past, the fire investigator said.