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Edison Hauls Away Tons of Dirt : Toxic Fumes Reduced at Building Site

November 02, 1986|KENNETH J. FANUCCHI | Times Staff Writer

Removal of tar-like substances that caused nausea and headaches have been removed from a Venice building site and the fumes reduced to a negligible level, according to results of soil tests supervised by Southern California Edison Co. and released last week.

The tests, involving more than 100 samplings at 340 Main St., were completed by an independent laboratory after the Edison company hauled away 5,500 tons of dirt from the site, a former gas plant and coal tar dump operated around the turn of the century.

Colleen P. Doyle, environmental specialist for Edison, said the test results will be forwarded to state and county health departments and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The three agencies must be satisfied that there is no health hazard before allowing construction to resume on the site.

"With 99% of the results in, we believe that there is no health hazard on the site," Doyle said. "The problem apparently was solved by removing four feet of the dirt from the top of the site."

Chiat/Day, an advertising agency, plans to build a $15-million, three-story, 75,000-square-foot office complex on the property.

Work on the project was suspended in March when workers discovered the stench, apparently caused by residue from a gasification process operated more than 70 years ago and by storage of other petroleum material in recent years.

County and state health officials stepped into the picture in July when employees in nearby buildings complained that fumes from the site were causing nausea and headaches.

Southern California Edison, whose subsidiary operated the gasification process, has assumed responsibility for the cleanup. The company hauled away the dirt to a dump site in Buttonwillow, a farm town west of Bakersfield. The Venice property has been covered with dirt until soil tests are completed and analyzed and a public hearing is held on the project.

Steve Hunt, chief operating officer of Chiat/Day, expressed relief at the test results. "The preliminary test results show that we will be able to build our new headquarters in Venice," he said.

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