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New Study Sought on Ahmanson Ranch

July 28, 1998|COLL METCALFE

Opponents of the 3,050-home Ahmanson Ranch project hope that an expired permit to fill a 7-acre wetland will force developers to conduct a new environmental study of the long-delayed project.

They say they are confident a new study would prove the area is contaminated by radioactive waste and chemical pollutants.

The city of Calabasas, the group Save Open Space and environmental attorney Edward Masry have asked the federal government to force the Ahmanson Land Co. to conduct a new environmental analysis.

Special focus would be placed on the area's soils, which opponents believe have been contaminated by years of nuclear and rocket testing at Rocketdyne's nearby Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

"It's a project that jeopardizes the public because they're going to be moving tons of contaminated earth," said Mary Wiesbrock of Save Open Space. "That was something that the earlier EIR didn't even look at."

Opponents are asking that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which scrutinizes requests to fill watersheds and wetlands, hold off on issuing a new permit to fill the web of creek beds until a new study is complete.

Officials at the Ahmanson Land Co. maintain that a 1992 environmental study was adequate.

"Those questions were addressed six years ago, and there's absolutely no reason to believe anything has changed," spokeswoman Mary Trigg said recently.

The earlier study determined that the area's complex geology prevented any contaminated water from seeping into the Ahmanson Ranch site.

But opponents such as Wiesbrock say that airborne contaminants have settled onto the area and pose a serious threat not only to future Ahmanson Ranch residents, but also to communities in the San Fernando Valley, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley.

"This is something that could affect us all, so we need to get some answers," Wiesbrock said.

The Ahmanson project is about three miles south of the Rocketdyne test site.

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