FULLERTON : Health to Be Studied During McColl Dig

People who live near the former McColl toxic waste dump will be asked to pay close attention to their noses and lungs during next month’s dig of potentially toxic material at the dump.

The state Department of Health Services mailed letters Tuesday to about 500 residents living within three blocks of the dump, asking them to participate in a health survey during the dig, said Dr. Martin Kharrazi, an official conducting the survey for the department’s Epidemiology and Toxicology Section.

Residents are asked to report new symptoms, worsening of respiratory ailments or changes in odors from the site, Kharrazi said. The survey period begins Friday and ends July 15.

A toll-free telephone number will be listed in the letters to report symptoms.


From June 6 to June 26, the federal Environmental Protection Agency is scheduled to dig and grind up about 135 tons of waste at the eight-acre McColl site, considered to have some of the worst pollution in California. The work will be conducted inside a three-story-high tent that will trap the dust.

A treatment system inside the tent will remove most of the hydrocarbon and sulfur-dioxide emissions expected to be released during the dig, EPA spokeswoman Virginia Donohue said.

The excavation is a dress rehearsal for the EPA’s preferred method of cleaning up McColl, which is to dig up waste and burn it at high temperature.

Previous surveys of McColl area residents show they report more health problems, but there is no direct link to the site.

Problems surrounding the McColl waste dump began cropping up more than 10 years ago, after houses were built around the World War II-era dump. The site was used to dispose of wastes created by refining high-octane aviation gasoline used during the war and has resulted in more than $24 million in lawsuits.