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Meeting Planned on Toxin Removal

September 17, 2000|HILARY E. MacGREGOR

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control will hold a public meeting Thursday to discuss its plan to remove toxic substances from a site proposed for an elementary school.

The four-acre lot at Vanowen Street and Columbus Avenue, across from Valley Presbyterian Hospital, is owned by the Los Angeles Unified School District, which plans to build Van Nuys Elementary School next year on the site.

A preliminary test completed in April turned up small amounts of several toxic substances, including polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon and arsenic, one to two feet underground, said Peter Garcia, who heads chemical investigations of school sites for the district.

"It's not that serious," Garcia said. "It's about 75 cubic yards total that can be removed in four to five truckloads."

The property now holds a small building for continuing education students from Van Nuys High School, whose agricultural students once used the empty field to raise flowers, tomatoes and chickens. Residual herbicide from the horticultural area probably resulted in the arsenic, Garcia said, and the polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbon came from telephone poles treated with creosote and used as parking barriers.

Sources of both toxins have been removed and the site should be safe when the soil is cleaned up, said Robbie Morris, project manager with the Department of Toxic Substances Control. Construction should begin within 18 months, he said.

The public meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of the State Building, 6150 Van Nuys Blvd. Copies of the draft plan are available at the Van Nuys Branch Library, 6250 Sylmar Ave. Questions should be directed to Steve Cain, public participation chief for the Department of Toxic Substances Control, at (818) 551-2909, or to Morris at (818) 551-2941.

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