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Councilman Says City Knew of Risks at Lockheed Property

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Accusing city officials of putting profits ahead of public health, a city councilman released data Tuesday that he said show that chemicals used in decades of defense manufacturing were still a threat to nearby residents.

Councilman Ted McConkey said Burbank officials dragged their feet after an engineering firm found evidence in 1994 of heightened cancer risks on the Plant B-1 site owned by Lockheed Martin.

“This shows the city knew early on that they needed new toxic studies and health risk assessments,” said McConkey. “They failed to aggressively push Lockheed to do it.”

Burbank Community Development Director Bob Tague said the study released by McConkey was conducted for Lockheed Martin and was only recently obtained by the city.

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Lockheed Martin spokeswoman Gail Rymer said the report was one of many studies of the property and that the 1994 health risk assessment was done before completion of a toxic cleanup.

“McConkey has taken excerpts from the report and drawn conclusions that are erroneous,” Rymer said.

Burbank City Manager Bud Ovrom said a more complete environmental assessment is scheduled to be released in late April.

“The environmental questions are legitimate and need to be answered,” Ovrom said. “But to take this piece from one report out of context when the whole thing will be released next month is inaccurate.”

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Prepared for Lockheed, the 1994 study by ICF Kaiser Engineers showed that in a scenario where the B-1 site was developed for residential housing, cancer risks to residents on the property could run as high as 3 per 1,000.

The study said an acceptable cancer risk was one per million.

Construction workers on the property faced an 8-in-100,000 chance of contracting cancer due to inhalation of carcinogens such as trichloroethylene (TCE), the study said.

McConkey, who is in an April 13 runoff election to retain his council seat, said those hazards potentially affected nearby residents but that the city and Lockheed were hiding those results from residents in order to reap the tax benefits from the 103-acre property.

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Assemblyman Scott Wildman (D-Los Angeles), who attended McConkey’s news conference Tuesday, called the allegations serious and said the state may need to play a role in examining the issue.

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The Plant B-1 site, adjacent to the Golden State Freeway, is planned for a mixed office-retail development.

In connection with the proposed development, Lockheed Martin is preparing a new, more complete study that will be reviewed by city officials.

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