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State signs off on open space plan

Agency sets regulation for usage of contaminated land

Posted: June 30, 2009 9:21 p.m.
Updated: July 1, 2009 4:55 a.m.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control has signed off on a plan for 140 acres Santa Clarita is acquiring as open space in Placerita Canyon.

Included on the property formerly home to Special Devices, Inc. are two parcels — about 1.5 acres combined — contaminated with vinyl chloride and potassium perchlorate.

The DTSC is recommending land-use controls as a remedy, Supervising Engineer Charlie Ridenour said Tuesday.

Buildings could not be erected on the contaminated sites without certain engineering controls, he said.

For example, the vinyl chloride — a carcinogen — is at a level that could build up over time and seep into a building if it were not properly designed.

Even then, he said the levels would not pose a grave health risk.

The level of perchlorate contamination in groundwater on the site is low, but above the drinking water standard, Ridenour said.

If nothing is built on the property, he said the contamination will dissipate naturally over time.

On Tuesday, notices about the decision were sent to 59 homes in the area surrounding the property, he said.

“We feel it’s a very protective remedy,” Ridenour said. “It fits with the intended future use (and) we think it’s the most logical.”

The city started negotiating with Placerita Land and Farming Co. in September 2007 and is in escrow on the site, with the final price tag topping out at around $2.5 million.

Rick Gould, director of parks, recreation and community services, expects the property to be completely in the city’s hands within a few weeks, joining some 3,400 acres of open space already under the city’s control.

City officials have talked with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority about the concept of the MRCA providing open-space management, but no action has been taken.

Moorpark-based Special Devices Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection last December.

Between the 1950s and the late 1990s, the company made explosives for the air bags used in automotive safety systems, and explosive-release charges for the doors on the Mercury space capsules.

The DTSC will not likely be checking contamination levels.

“We don’t have anything planned,” Ridenour said. “Unless someone triggers a new use for the site, we don’t have plans to do soil or groundwater (monitoring).”



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