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Seal Beach : Chemical Levels Low at Site of Apartments

The levels of hazardous chemicals at an apartment complex built on a former Dow Chemical Co. factory site are below safety limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to tests completed at the site.

Traces of chemicals were found in soil and water samples taken at the Oakwood Apartments at 333 1st St. but in amounts that are not harmful to residents of the 550-unit complex, according to R. Nichols Hazelwood, a spokesman from International Technologies Corp. of Torrance.

Meanwhile, an official with the state Department of Health Services said it was unlikely that any additional tests would be required. Jim Smith, from the toxic substance services control division, said the chemical levels were not alarming. He added, however, that the department has not decided if further action is needed.

The state agency requested the tests as part of an EPA-funded program to investigate former toxic waste sites. A preliminary assessment conducted by the agency determined that Dow had used the area for iodine recovery and pesticide research.

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The tests uncovered barium and residues of pesticides and other potentially hazardous chemical compounds, but the levels are comparable to other sites in Orange County tested by the laboratory, Hazelwood said.

Dow operated a plant at the site that extracted iodine from nearby oil field brine, and later used it as a pesticide mixing and packing factory, Hazelwood said. The barium was used in the extraction of iodine from water pumped in from the oil fields, he said.

The firm closed the factory in the mid-1960s and the apartment complex was constructed in 1970. The tests were begun in July after concerns were raised that the area might be contaminated, according to Burt Pines, a spokesman for R&B; Enterprises.

Pines said the area was cleaned of hazardous materials and three feet of fresh soil was dumped on the land before the apartment complex was built. He said R&B; Enterprises believes the tests demonstrate that the complex is safe for residents.

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“We take it as a clean bill of health, that there is no threat to human health or the environment,” Pines said.


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