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EPA begins removal of contaminated soil

Site caused 2010 water emergency in Barstow


BARSTOW • At a residential site in far Northeast Barstow near Highway 58, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began excavation of 1,100 tons of contaminated soil Monday.

The site was responsible for contaminating the city water supply with perchlorate, causing a temporary ban on drinking water in November 2010. It was declared a state of emergency for San Bernardino County by the governor of California.

According to EPA On Scene Coordinator Will C. Duncan III, the late resident of the home at 30433 Poplar Street was the former owner of Mojave Pyrotechnics Inc. and stored drums of material on the property after the business was defunct. The material was believed to be unintentionally spilled into the soil, which tested at a level of 13 percent perchlorate in 2010 — an amount significantly above the EPA Regional Screening Levels of 55 mg/kg.

The EPA is working closely with the Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is the lead agency on the ongoing groundwater investigation.

About three feet of soil in two separate locations — the garden area and the northwest end of the property — will be excavated. Once the contaminated soil is removed from both areas, it will be disposed of at the U.S. Ecology landfill and the marked areas will be covered with a layer of plastic and refilled with new soil.

“We want to make sure that we cover anything that we take out of the ground so that the rainwater doesn’t get to it,” Duncan said.

On Tuesday, workers began by building a road to get to the area of excavation, as soft soil on scene posed an issue for the use of bulldozers and heavy equipment.

“We have a really senior crew out here. We’ve had no hiccups. The city is cooperating with us and all of the residents are cooperating with us,” Duncan said. “It’s a really big team effort between the state and the federal government to clean up this site.”

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