Noxious odors reportedly emanating from a major hazardous waste dump forced the closure Wednesday of Casmalia Elementary School, eight miles from Santa Maria.
Principal Kenneth C. McCalip said the two-room country school's 25 pupils were sent home an hour early, after several children and staff members reported experiencing headaches and throat irritation.
"We decided it was no longer safe to be here and closed down at 2 p.m.," McCalip said.
He described the odor as resembling that of a home hair permanent solution, with an added "oily smell."
Crude Oil Used
The dump, operated by Casmalia Resources, lies just over a hill from the school. McCalip noted that crude oil had been poured on the surface of open hazardous waste ponds in an attempt to curtail odors.
The school's closure came as Santa Barbara County prepared to file suits against the dump's operators, as well as the state Department of Health Services.
Santa Barbara County Counsel Kenneth Nelson said Wednesday that he expects a suit to be filed next week asking the court to recognize that a nuisance existed. In addition, he said the suit would seek to prohibit the dump's operators from accepting further deliveries of liquid hazardous wastes destined for five specific ponds that are believed to be the source of the odors.
The county Board of Supervisors on Monday decided to go to court after dump operators refused to comply with their demand to shut down the ponds immediately.
Supervisors also authorized the filing of a suit against state Health Director Kenneth W. Kizer in an attempt to force the state to declare that the dump poses an immediate health hazard. The state has jurisdiction over hazardous waste dumps.
Casmalia dump is one of two hazardous waste dumps used by Southern California. During 1983, the dump received 120,000 tons of hazardous wastes.
Last Nov. 29, McCalip ordered the school closed for a day and a half, after teachers were overcome by noxious odors that they said resembled the smell of home hair permanent solution tinged with fecal matter.
There was no immediate comment from dump officials.