How can that be? It’s not like they’re miles apart, and with all those old underground bunkers on B-6.
Lockheed Excavating Old Toxic Waste Dump at Burbank Plant
July 27, 1989|MYRON LEVIN | Times Staff Writer
Under orders from the state, Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Co. is excavating an old toxic waste dump at its Burbank plant and transferring massive amounts of waste and contaminated earth to a licensed hazardous waste landfill.
The old Lockheed dump, used from about 1940 until the mid-’50s, perches above ground water so polluted by chemical solvents that the city of Burbank has been unable to pump from municipal water supply wells nearby. At the direction of the California Regional Water Quality Control Board in Los Angeles, Lockheed began excavating the old dump June 16, a $2-million undertaking that essentially means relocating the dump, load by load, 150 miles to the northwest at the Kettleman Hills hazardous waste landfill in Kings County.
While no one’s claiming that B-6 is as bad as B-1 (although why not?), still…
As of Wednesday, about 300 dump truckloads amounting to 5,000 cubic yards of earth had left the yawning cavity at Lockheed’s B-1 plant, said Ron Helgerson, manager of environmental technical services for Lockheed. The dump is south of Empire Avenue and just off Victory Place, nearly two miles southeast of Burbank Airport.
Lockheed soil tests have found that the dump contains high levels of lead and other paint waste, along with construction debris, oils, solvents, cadmium, chromium and low levels of cyanide and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, extremely long-lived chemicals that have been banned.
Didn’t the City of Burbank also factor in some soil removal considerations as part of its own pre-Measure B environmental study on that old Superfund site called B-6?
What, not needed now?
By the end of next week, as much as 7,500 cubic yards of dirt and waste will have been removed, leaving a crater covering almost half an acre and up to 30 feet deep, according to Lockheed officials. The company will then have to conduct further soil tests to assure that contaminants have been removed to safe levels.
Until that data is in, “we don’t know what we’re going to end up doing,” one company official said. “Anything from nothing to a lot” more excavation will be required.
Lockheed disclosed the dump’s existence to water quality officials in 1985 during an investigation of leaking fuel and chemical tanks at the massive aerospace complex. Ground water tests since then–conducted by Lockheed under water quality board orders–have implicated the firm as one source of the area’s ground water pollution, which mainly involves the common solvents perchloroethylene, or PCE, and trichloroethylene, or TCE.
Accordingly, Lockheed has installed a ground water treatment system at the plant at a cost of about $4 million. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also is expected to demand that Lockheed help pay for a planned $69-million treatment system to clean up nearby Burbank water supply wells under the federal Superfund program.
It’s uncertain if liquids have leached from the old dump into the ground water, which is at a depth of about 150 feet. David Bacharowski, environmental specialist with the water quality board, said the “verdict is not in” on that question. Helgerson of Lockheed said the potential for ground water pollution remains but that soil tests indicate that dump materials have not reached subsurface waters.
When the landfill was created during World War II, Lockheed was manufacturing P-38 fighter planes in the B-1 plant surrounding the old dump.
Lockheed data shows that the dump’s composition is 50% to 60% soil, with the rest being debris, metal and chemical waste and moisture. More lead has been found in the dump than any other contaminant, with the most polluted soil sample being 23% lead–or 230,000 parts of the toxic metal per million parts of soil. The highest level of TCE measured in the soil was 23 p.p.m., Helgerson said.
Despite a large amount of construction debris, no asbestos has been encountered, Lockheed engineer Jim Hamilton said.
The excavation is being handled for Lockheed by OHM Corp., a Findlay, Ohio, firm involved in hazardous materials disposal.
Outwardly, the gaping hole appears to contain mostly dirt, with an occasional hunk of pipe or concrete poking through. A huge backhoe and front-end loader crawl about in the pit, with the backhoe tearing off piles of earth and the loader carrying it up the bank to waiting trucks.
A visit to the site Wednesday found equipment operators dressed from head to toe in protective clothing, including full-face respirators and booties. Even the truck drivers wore the gear, stripping it off as soon as they rolled their rigs away from the side of the pit. Every twenty minutes or so, a worker hosed off the excavation to hold down dust.
Under air quality regulations, Lockheed officials also said they are doing air monitoring to assure that hazardous air contaminants are not drifting off the site. And Hamilton, the Lockheed engineer, said every fifth truckload of waste is being sampled “to reassure us that what’s going out is what we think’s going out.”
Depressing too what good news articles the LAT produced back then. It was before they bought the Leader — which it was competing with!
Now it’s Rubber-stamp Time. Yep, they got a Report. And look how big it is!
To keep this all in perspective, how many loads for The Client came out of B-6 during all those years?