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BURBANK : Group Urges EPA to Halt Lockheed Plan

Fearing that Lockheed Corp.'s controversial plan to clean up contaminated soil with a “vapor extraction system” would endanger their health, a group of Burbank residents asked federal authorities to step in and force the aerospace firm to consider other alternatives.

The Burbank Council PTA, an umbrella group representing the parent-teacher groups at all Burbank public schools, launched a petition drive asking for closer supervision of the cleanup at the site of Lockheed’s former B-1 bomber assembly plant, located near Burbank Airport on Victory Place.

Sandy Walker, a PTA officer in charge of the petition drive, said the group wants the Environmental Protection Agency to study the health risks posed not only by the plan that Lockheed has proposed, but by the combined effects of its emissions and existing auto and industrial pollution. The petitioners also want the EPA to require Lockheed to investigate building an enclosed system that releases little or no toxins into the air.

“We are very aware that the soil needs to be cleaned. Our water wells are closed in Burbank because they’re so polluted,” Walker said. “We just think there is a better way of doing it than what’s been proposed.”

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Walker said Burbank already has its share of air pollution generated by traffic and industry. Therefore, the EPA’s study of the health risks posed by the project “doesn’t give a clear picture of how dangerous it is.”

Lockheed is under EPA orders to remove contaminants left behind after 63 years of building military aircraft at the site. Among the potentially cancer-causing chemicals found in the soil are carbon tetrachloride and methylene chloride.

Company officials say the vapor-extraction system of wells, pipes and charcoal filters is typically used by gas stations and dry cleaners, and is the most effective way to clean up the 90-acre site. But the plan has drawn a storm of protest from about 350 residents.

David Seter, an EPA official in charge of the Lockheed property cleanup, could not be reached for comment.

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Walker said the PTA petitions, which will be circulated for the next few weeks, are meant to show the EPA the level of residents’ concern.

“Hopefully this will get the attention of the federal authorities. We’d like them to take a more active role,” she said.


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