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Testing for contaminants at Riverside’s Ag Park may be nearing end

By in Press Enterprise on October 12, 2017

By Ryan Hagen

Testing at a former Riverside sewer plant where new homes are planned could finish in late November or December, state officials said.

Also, a clean-up report will likely be published in spring, according to the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

That would be more than two years after soil testing found contamination above the federal Environmental Protection Agency standard — despite an earlier round of clean-up work and the department’s declaration that the site was safe.

That’s one reason some residents remain skeptical of the testing and clean-up procedures.

But since the state agency began its latest efforts in August 2016, workers have removed about 275,000 tons of soil and collected 7,000 soil samples, the department’s project director Peter Garcia said at the Tuesday, Oct. 10, Riverside City Council meeting.

Separate testing is being done off-site at 25 residences, Rutland Park and a city right-of-way where modeling suggested the wind could have carried contaminants, Garcia said. The results will be shared first with property owners and then the public, he said.

“One thing I want to point out is that, based on our preliminary review of the laboratory data, there’s not any imminent threat to any of the properties that we sampled,” Garcia said.

A sewage spill in 2003 led to the discovery of cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, in the soil of the area, known as the Ag Park because of its past agricultural use .

After an earlier two-part cleanup, toxic substances officials in 2014 declared the site was suitable for homes. But neighbors and the Jurupa Valley-based Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice pressed for new testing. In 2015 that testing showed contamination in some spots exceeded the state’s cleanup target.

One of residents’ concerns is that testing looks only for PCBs, not other potentially harmful materials.

“If the Air Force has deemed […]    

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