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Comment period extended for proposal to clean up former Texaco site near Fillmore

posted Jun 29, 2011, 10:41 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jun 29, 2011, 11:14 AM ]
Texaco Refinery 1941

Cheveron/Texaco Refinery 2011



Comment period extended for proposal to clean up former Texaco site near Fillmore

By James Zoltak

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Those who want to comment on the cleanup of benzene, lead and other contaminants from groundwater and soil at the site of a long-gone Texaco Inc. refinery north of Highway 126 on the east side of Fillmore will have more time to make their thoughts known.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has extended the comment period on the cleanup proposal to July 15.

Texaco, since 2002 a subsidiary of Chevron Corp., operated a refinery at the 56-acre site near Pole Creek from 1915 to 1950, producing gasoline, diesel fuel and fuel oil.

Refinery waste was dumped into pits, some of them unlined, and the contaminants made their way into the soil and groundwater, according to the EPA's cleanup proposal.

Texaco converted the so-called Pacific Coast Pipeline Superfund Site into a crude oil pumping station after the refinery was shuttered and dismantled. Pumping operations ceased in 2000. It was deemed a Super fund site in 1989.

The site includes two plumes of groundwater contaminated primarily by benzene, a carcinogen, and areas of soil contaminated with lead, a known hazard to human health, and other substances.

Earlier efforts by Texaco to clean up the site involved pumping the tainted groundwater, which flows 60 to 90 feet underground, to the surface and removing the contaminants. Texaco also removed contaminated soil vapor through ventilation, but both methods were halted in 2002 after being deemed no longer effective, according to the EPA.

While the groundwater contamination exceeds California drinking water standards, it does not threaten drinking water sources, according to the EPA. The cleanup aims to render the site, zoned for agricultural and industrial use, safe for workers and recreational users, and to remove risk to plants and animals.

About 27 Fillmore-area residents attended a public hearing at the Fillmore Senior Center earlier this month on the proposed remediation, EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Alejandro Diaz said. Some had general questions, others voiced concerns about past exposure to contaminants and others expressed a desire that the local labor force be included in some of the cleanup work. Representatives of the EPA as well Chevron and its subcontractors were on hand for the hearing.

"Concerns were expressed, but mostly there were a lot of clarifying questions," said Diaz, who added there would be no other public hearings on the matter.

The proposed groundwater cleanup methods range from "monitored natural attenuation" (MNA) — simply allowing nature to take its course in a process that, by itself, could take 100 years, to more active remediation procedures that would cost more, but take less time to eliminate health hazards. All involve long-term monitoring.

The more active methods include "air sparging," the injection of air into tainted groundwater, or "enhanced bioremediation," which involves pumping deeper groundwater that is rich in sulfur into more shallow, contaminated groundwater. Both methods hasten the breakdown of contaminants.

For one of the site's two groundwater contamination plumes, the EPA prefers a combination of MNA, bioremediation and air sparging. The agency says that approach would cost $6.44 million and take 25 years. For the other plume, the EPA prefers MNA alone for up to 50 years, at a cost of $598,000.

Out of a number of options for cleaning up the contaminated soil, the EPA prefers scraping up 20,000 tons of soil from the site and depositing into the site's primary refinery waste pit. The pit would then be capped with a synthetic material that would prevent precipitation from moving through the tainted dirt and into the groundwater. This method would take a little more than a year and cost $1.59 million, according to the agency.

Other alternatives for the soil include removing it for off-site disposal or mixing the contaminated dirt with concrete and putting it into the waste disposal pit. Off-site disposal would cost roughly $3.37 million, the EPA estimates.

EPA Project Manager Holly Hadlock said a final decision on the cleanup should be made by the end of September, with work, which must be completed in the dry season, likely to start in 2012.

"We negotiate a consent decree, which gets lodged in court, so it can take a while," she said, adding the soil contamination would be dealt with first.

"After that will begin the installation of the ground water treatment system," said Hadlock.

Residents who wish to submit comments to the EPA can do so by emailing Community Involvement Coordinator Alejandro Diaz at or calling him at 415-972-3242. Comments can also be emailed to EPA Project Manager Holly Hadlock at She can be reached by phone at 415-972-3181. Both Diaz and Hadlock also can be faxed at 415-947-3528 or contacted by mail at 75 Hawthorne St. (SFD 8-2); San Francisco, CA; 94105.

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