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Westminster : State to Begin Testing Soil, Air for Oil Waste

State health officials will begin testing soil and air in a Westminster neighborhood next week to determine the hazard posed by a petroleum sludge that began oozing into back yards several years ago.

Investigators from the state Department of Health Services will take soil samples from 12 homes built on an abandoned oil industry waste pit, said John Scandura, a supervising hazardous materials specialist in the department’s toxics division.

Results of the monthlong sampling are expected to be used to determine how long the cleanup will take, Scandura said. A cleanup plan is to be completed late this year, then circulated for public comment, he said.

About 20 Westminster residents attended a Thursday night meeting with state health officials to discuss the soil and air tests in the neighborhood located east of the San Diego Freeway, near the Golden West Street off-ramp.

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Since the state first began looking into the pollution in 1987, the investigation has cost nearly $1 million, Scandura said. The site is on the state’s Superfund cleanup list, and Scandura said the contamination may be serious enough to qualify the site for the federal Superfund program.

In 1987, state officials removed 25 drums, each containing 55 gallons of petroleum sludge, from beneath the site and conducted soil tests that showed the presence of low levels of benzene, a carcinogenic chemical.


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