Gas station clean up to begin in March

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The first steps to decontaminate a Lampson Avenue gas station should begin in March, according to Anthony Martinez, a senior engineering geologist with the Orange County Health Care Agency’s Environmental Health Division.

Martinez said there is no immediate danger to the public. Drinking water has not been threatened by the contamination. The independently owned gas station at 4000 Lampson Ave. is the third Seal Beach gas station to come under county scrutiny for decontamination operations in the past year. The Bridgeport Atlantic Richfield Company gas station at 490 Pacific Ave., located near several residential homes, is the most prominent of the three. The site of a former gas station, located on Lampson Avenue and Seal Beach Boulevard, was the subject of decontamination activity in spring of 2008.

The former gas station was once owned by ARCO.

“I have reviewed the file for the site at 4000 Lampson,” wrote Martinez in an e-mail to City Manager David Carmany.

“There does not appear to be an immediate danger to the residents, however, further investigation have been directed by the Health Care Agency,” Martinez wrote.

“The responsible party for this case is an independent station owner, not a major oil company. As such, he and his company has come to depend on a state Water Resources Control Board reimbursement program to pay for assessment and cleanup costs,” Martinez wrote.

“In November 2008, the Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund stopped making reimbursements to claimants, including this one,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez told the Sun Newspapers on Monday afternoon, Jan. 25, that the state funds were being paid again, allowing the independent gas station to clean up the site. The first steps toward remediating the site should begin in March, he said.

Martinez said that, yes, ground water had been contaminated. However, he said this particular contamination is not anywhere near drinking water.

The ground water in question was not drinking water used by the public. He said the nearest water supply well is about 2,000 feet away from the site. The plume from the gas station did not appear to be headed toward the well.

Martinez said the plume went in the direction of the golf course.

In his e-mail to the city, Martinez explained that the greatest concern from the 4000 Lampson Ave. site were two contaminants called MTBE and TBA. “These chemicals were added to gasoline in the 1990s to reduce smog, but there were removed from gasoline in 2003 because they were causing significant groundwater contamination problems,” Martinez wrote.

Martinez also said the county was going ahead with assessment and remediation of the site “without further delay, reimbursement issues notwithstanding.”

The 4000 Lampson Avenue station is not the first Lampson Avenue site the county has ever looked at.

In the Thursday, May 7 article titled, “ARCO assisting city in Lampson soil decontamination effort,” the Sun reported that Seal Beach halted a sewer line project on Lampson in March when workers found evidence of petroleum contamination in the soil.

ARCO had once leased the land in question.

In late April, Darrell Fah, of ARCO’s La Palma office, said it was impossible to say who was responsible for the contamination 20 to 30 years after the fact. “We know whose (responsibility) it isn’t and that’s Seal Beach,” Fah said. He said ARCO would work with Seal Beach to decontaminate the soil.

He also said the county had closed the case on the site in 1996.

At the time City Engineer Michael Ho said no drinking water had been effected by the former ARCO site. He said the contamination was probably 2,500 feet from the nearest water well.

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