EIR Covers Costs of Work at Possible School Site

An industrial area under consideration as a site for a high school would be safe for students if the Los Angeles Unified School District cleaned up ground contamination at a cost of $2 million and purchased two of the adjoining businesses that pose a health threat, according to a recent environmental report.

The 33 1/2-acre site in an industrial area of South Gate east of Atlantic Avenue would be a viable area for a school if the district bought Falcon Machine, a manufacturer of food processing machinery, and Universal Cast Iron Manufacturing Co., a foundry, ICF Technology of Universal City concluded in a report made last month.

Toxic emissions from the foundry and solvents containing the chemical trichloroethylene used by the machine company would be unhealthy to schoolchildren, the report concluded.

It would cost the district about $2 million to excavate and remove contaminated soil from the site, according to the report. It would also cost the district about $100,000 to remove underground storage tanks at the machine company.

The district's building committee has agreed to proceed with a complete environmental impact report, which will include potential traffic and noise pollution problems, said Robert Niccum, school district director of real estate. A complete impact report is expected in four to six months, Niccum said.

After the report is completed, the district staff will make a recommendation to the school board whether to go ahead with the purchase of any of the 50 businesses within the area under consideration, Niccum said. Niccum said an appraisal of the area has not been done.

Roger Hutchinson, a spokesman for South Gate industries and businesses that want to remain on the proposed site, was critical of the ICF report.

Hutchinson called the report "flawed because it was based on limited" research. The majority of the site was inaccessible for sampling because it is covered by buildings, roads and asphalt, according to the report itself, Hutchinson said.

"It is a mystery what is under there. It could cost the district $20 million for a cleanup," he said.

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