Residents Get Look at McColl Cleanup : Pollution: EPA, oil companies’ project at odorous waste dump could cost $100 million.


More than 150 neighbors of the McColl toxic waste dump got their first look Saturday at a multimillion-dollar project that seeks to determine the best way to clean up the contamination.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the McColl Site Group, an association of oil companies that dumped the waste during World War II, offered residents guided tours explaining the cleanup process. The four-month project, which relies in part on a new $5-million air treatment facility, will begin operating by the end of January, officials said.

“I came out because I was concerned about the noise and odor from the project,” said Jung An, a computer engineer who lives less than half a mile from the 22-acre site. “We understand what they are going to do now.”

Officials will measure the effectiveness of a pair of methods to decontaminate the estimated 100,000 cubic yards of waste buried in 12 sumps on the site. One method involves using a large crane to inject a cement-like substance into the ground to neutralize the waste, while the other would implant an “impermeable” cap to achieve similar results, officials said.


Both methods, however, are expected to produce noise and odor problems for neighbors, some of whom live as close as 100 feet from the site, officials said.


“There’s going to be noise, smells and the aesthetics of looking at a big rig,” said Jeff Zelikson, the EPA’s regional hazardous waste management director. “And neighbors have to figure out how long they can live with that near their back yards.”

By summer, officials estimate they will have pumped about $50 million into the cleanup effort. Officials say it could take four to six years to complete the cleanup project and that the price tag could approach $100 million.


Once a remote part of Fullerton, the site was used by oil companies as a dumping ground for petroleum waste in the production of aviation fuel during World War II.

The oil companies

Shell Oil Co., Atlantic-Richfield Co., Texaco Inc., Union Oil Co. of California and Phillips Petroleum--are now united as the McColl Site Group and under court order to pay for most of the cleanup at the site, half a block south of Ralph B. Clark Regional Park on Rosecrans Avenue.

The McColl group filed a countersuit last year contending the government should share in the cleanup costs, since the waste disposal was a result of the war effort.


A golf course was built on the site in 1960, followed by construction of several hundred homes in the immediate vicinity in 1976.

By 1978, owners of new homes began complaining of odors and ooze emanating from the 12 sumps.

The EPA deemed McColl a major toxic problem in 1979 and added it to the federal Superfund priority list of toxic cleanup sites in September, 1983. A fence surrounds the site to keep people off the property.

“It affected property values for a long time because people were afraid to live here,” said Pat Slames, a property appraiser from Brea, who went on a cleanup tour Saturday. “Now it’s stabilized, but people are still concerned.”



In addition to the guided tours, residents participating in the open house examined charts, watched a video chronicling the site’s history and quizzed EPA and McColl officials about the cleanup effort.

“When my wife and I were driving by we saw this huge project and wondered what it was,” said said La Habra resident Jim Young, who lives less than a mile away.

“I just wanted to find out what all this was about.”


When the project is finished, McColl officials said Saturday, they want to build another golf course on the land.

At a public meeting last year, residents urged officials to replace the site’s old golf course.


New Process for McColl


A new approach to treating the sludge deposits at the 22-acre McColl Superfund site in Fullerton will soon be tested. The site was first used during World War II to store acid sludge created in manufacturing aviation fuel. A special auger will inject contaminated soil with cement slurry. The treatment solidifies the waste to prevent water supply contamination.

Treatment Basics

* 100-foot crane supports auger, which can bore a hole up to 18 feet in diameter

* Hollow shaft guides auger; hose carrying slurry feeds auger


* Auger, which can reach down 100 feet, rotates while cement slurry is pumped into soil

* Injected steam causes gases to rise; emissions collect in sealed cover (shroud)

* Emissions flow from shroud through duct to air treatment system

Auger Blades


* Four interconnected flat blades churn through soil

* Slurry sprayed from holes at back of blades

Source: McColl Site Group

Researched by APRIL JACKSON / Los Angeles Times