Norwalk : Bill Calls on Defense Dept. to Close Toxic Tank Farm

Opponents of an Air Force supply depot that houses millions of gallons of jet fuel and other toxic chemicals are one step closer to having the facility closed.

A bill passed last week by the House calls on the Department of Defense to consider moving the 12-tank depot at Norwalk Boulevard and Excelsior Drive. The House also passed a companion bill directing the department to issue a report by March 30, estimating the costs to close the tank farm, relocate it and clean up the land. The report also would have to name alternative sites. Rep. Esteban Torres (D-Puente) introduced the depot legislation. Both bills are expected to go to the Senate for consideration by the end of the month.

Residents and local officials have voiced concerns for several years that toxic chemicals such as benzene are leaking into the ground at the 50-acre facility. The tanks can accommodate a maximum 36 million gallons of fuel, and are located within walking distance of homes, an elementary school and a park.

The Air Force maintains that the tanks are a critical link between Southland refineries and pipelines that distribute fuel to military bases in California, Nevada and Arizona.

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