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When Murky Waters Turn Blue, It’s Time to Call Hazmat Team

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The normally brownish waters of the flood control channel near Disneyland turned bright blue Monday, sparking the hasty arrival of the city’s toxic waste team.

But the unusual tint turned out to be harmless, only the storm-induced overflow of the artificially colored lagoon at the Disneyland Hotel.

Fire Capt. Web Whitlock, chief of the hazardous materials squad, said that in retrospect he could chuckle about the incident, but added: “We have to be very cautious. You never know what you’re going to find.”

The pilot of a Police Department helicopter noticed the water first. Glancing down while on routine patrol, he was startled to see its ultra-blue color. He called the Fire Department’s hazardous materials squad, which sent a four-man team to the channel at Cerritos Avenue and 9th Street about 11:55 a.m., Whitlock said.

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One member, in boots, gloves and coveralls, descended a long ladder and collected a water sample in a glass vial, Whitlock said. Meanwhile, fire officials called Disneyland, knowing that the park, about a half-mile due east, often pumps water into the channel.

Disneyland officials quickly confirmed that they were pumping excess storm water from the three-acre marina area between the three high-rise towers of the hotel.

The lagoon, dotted with birds, provides a diversion for hotel guests. “We use blue food-coloring in the water to make it prettier, and so the pipes that run along the bottom aren’t visible,” said Disneyland spokesman Joe Aguirre.

Representatives of the county Environmental Management Agency and Disneyland converged on the scene for a “face-to-face” with the Hazmat team, but the Disneyland official quickly reassured them that food coloring was the culprit.

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