Workers on Wednesday were removing a concentration of asbestos found in soil around an abandoned generating station, county health officials said.
Although the concentration exceeds government "safe" levels, it does not pose an immediate health danger, said John Hills, waste management program manager for the county Health Care Agency.
"It's pretty much contained in the soil," he said. Although the site is next to the San Gabriel River, the chances of the asbestos getting into the river are minimal, Hills said.
The 10-acre site, which is fenced, is owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and is being patrolled around the clock to ward off unauthorized visitors, said Tom Irwin, DWP manager of civil engineering. In addition, a water truck has been wetting the surface to prevent the asbestos from becoming airborne, Irwin said.
A waste disposal company is bagging the asbestos and taking it to approved waste dumps under a cleanup plan approved by the Health Care Agency, Irwin said. No regulations have been violated, Hills said.
The DWP dismantled most of the generating station in 1967. Workers removing underground piping and concrete from the site in June discovered the asbestos, which had been used to insulate boilers, Hills and Irwin said. However, the Health Care Agency did not receive laboratory test results until Friday. The tests showed that the asbestos concentrations were higher than the 1% per pound allowed by state standards. Asbestos can cause respiratory problems if inhaled.