Of the countless polluted sites throughout Los Angeles, here are five that arguably hold the most promise for being cleaned up, redeveloped and redeployed to accommodate future economic growth.
Pier S, Port of Long Beach
Location: Terminal Island
Size: 75 acres
Current use: Oil production; disposal site for crude oil tank bottoms and excavated mud
Owner: City of Long Beach Harbor Department
On-site toxins: Various oil byproducts, including volatile organic compounds and aromatic hydrocarbons, also some heavy metals. Most of the toxins lie at the bottom of shallow pools of groundwater.
How it got that way: From the early 1930s, various entities have used the site for oil production. Between 1965 and 1970, then-owner Union Pacific Resources Co. leased parts of the property to outside parties for disposal of crude oil tank bottoms and excavated mud. According to a report from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control, there were anecdotal accounts that some types of waste disposed of on the site were not consistent with the terms in these lease contracts. In 1994, the city of Long Beach purchased the site from UPRC with the goal of converting it into a marine terminal that could then be leased out again.
Cleanup prescription: According to an April 1999 action plan, the Long Beach Harbor Department has proposed removing some of the underwater soil, mixing some of the soil with cement and then sandwiching that mix between two layers of clean landfill. This would help prevent surface water from percolating through the soil and spreading the hazardous materials. In April, the specific cleanup procedures and goals were agreed upon, and the actual cleanup is scheduled to be complete in early 2002.
Most likely reuse: Marine terminal
Golden Eagle Refinery
Location: 12000 S. Figueroa St., Carson
Size: 30 acres
Current use: Super Kmart on portion of site, with remainder sitting vacant
Owners: LASMO Oil and Gas Inc. and Golden Eagle Refining Co.
On-site toxins: Twenty acres of the site are contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons and lead, both in the soil and groundwater. Ten acres of the site are contaminated with lead and various other unidentified hazardous wastes, including sludge.
How it got that way: From 1922 to 1984, an oil refinery operated on 20 acres of the site. The refinery was closed and torn down in 1985, leaving oil contamination behind. The soil contamination was cleaned up in 1995, and in 1997, a Super Kmart located on this portion of the site. But the oil gradually seeped into local groundwater, creating a 250,000-gallon plume. There was some concern that the plume would migrate into a nearby portion of groundwater tapped for drinking water. In 1998, state regulators determined there was no such threat. Kmart continues to monitor the site.
In 1961 and 1962, the oil refinery owners leased out a 10-acre portion on the northwest portion of the site to a firm that operated a landfill. There was little documentation of the types of trash accepted (laws 40 years ago did not require it), but lead and other toxic elements were left behind. This portion of the site is now awaiting cleanup.
Cleanup prescription: The soil on the landfill portion of the site is currently being injected with air. At the same time, vapors are being extracted. Over the next few months, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control will be evaluating these steps to see if they adequately clean up this portion of the site. Then the department and LASMO will be coming up with a new cleanup action plan that might include additional steps, like removing the contaminated soil.
Most likely reuse: Retail/commercial center
Location: Between Los Angeles River and San Fernando Road, east of the Golden State (5) Freeway and west of Cypress Park
Size: 243 acres
Current use: Industrial park on portion of site, rest vacant
Owner: Southern Pacific Railroad/Union Pacific Railroad
On-site toxins: Oil, grease, cleaning solvents, diesel fuel, lead and acid solutions
How it got that way: For almost 100 years, the site was an active rail yard, where train locomotives were maintained and cleaned. Workers used extensive amounts of cleaning and lubricating solvents on the site, which leached into the soil and ran off into the nearby L.A. River. The site also contained wastewater treatment ponds and rubbish piles that leached toxins into the soil.
Large portions of the site have been cleaned up and now house a Federal Express distribution center. An industrial park for telecommunications firms and a multiplex movie theater are planned for the remaining parts of the site that have been cleaned up. But about 60 acres remain contaminated, particularly on the northeast portion of the property.
Cleanup prescription: Removal of contaminated soil and installation of monitoring systems. In August 1999, a removal action plan was approved for a portion of the remaining contaminated property. Final plans are due next year and actual cleanup is scheduled for 2001-02, with final certification due in mid-2002.
Most likely reuse: Light-industrial manufacturing facilities
Westway Terminal Co., Pier J
Location: 1395 Pier J Ave. at the Port of Long Beach
Size: 9 acres
Current use: Bulk liquid storage terminal
Owner: Westway Terminal Co.
On-site toxins: Tetrachloroethylene; 1,1,1-Trichloroethane; methylene chloride; and phthalate. Although all of these chemicals can pose grave health threats, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control has determined that they are not in high enough concentrations to pose immediate human or environmental threats.
How it got that way: The site was leased by the Port of Long Beach to the National Molasses Co. in 1968. National Molasses used the site as a bulk liquid storage terminal. Over the last 30 years, various acids, caustic soda, chlorinated solvents and molasses products have been stored there. Some of these have leached into the soil. In 1991, Westway took over as the site operator. Westway has announced plans to demolish the storage facility, grade the site and return it to the port.
Cleanup prescription: An April feasibility study determined that removal of some of the contaminated soil, combined with on-site heat treatment of the remainder of the soil and materials, would be the preferred cleanup method. Westway is expected to begin removal of the soil on three of the four parcels early next year. The fourth parcel has somewhat higher levels of contamination and will need a separate work plan and agreement.
Most likely reuse: Marine terminal or port-related roadways/railways
Waste Disposal Inc.
Location: Los Nietos Road, between Santa Fe Springs Road and Greenleaf Avenue in Santa Fe Springs
Size: 40 acres
Owner: Waste Disposal Inc.
On-site toxins: Benzene, toluene, phenol, trichloroethane, tetrachloroethene and at least 40 other chemicals. Some of these have leached into groundwater underneath the site and have migrated in the groundwater at least a mile away. The site is classified as a National Priority List Superfund site, one of 100 such sites in California and 1,800 nationwide.
How it got that way: From 1928 through 1965, Waste Disposal Inc. operated a reservoir originally intended for crude oil storage as a hazardous waste disposal facility. Wastes included petroleum-related chemicals, solvents, sludge, construction debris and drilling mud. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report said unidentified substances may have been dumped at the site illegally at night over a period of several years. The reservoir was covered in the late 1960s. Part of the site also contained a landfill. The site has been vacant since the late 1960s.
Cleanup prescription: The EPA came in during the 1980s and "stabilized" the site in an attempt to prevent the spread of contamination through storm-water runoff. Since then, the EPA has conducted numerous studies to determine the extent of pollution, especially chemicals in the groundwater. The agency is now evaluating cleanup options, including employing a process to extract vapors from the soil and removing some of the contaminated soil. The agency plans to come up with a proposed cleanup plan within the next year.
Most likely reuse: Commercial or light-industrial facilities
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