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Chromium 6 cleanup slated for contaminated lot

But the process could skew results at an adjacent testing facility.

April 01, 2012|By Brittany Levine, brittany.levine@latimes.com

Despite efforts to stop it, the chemical Chromium 6 has been seeping into Glendale groundwater for years at the site of a defunct plating company. By early next month, that will start to change.

Ralphs Grocery Co. plans to finalize the purchase of the nearly 1-acre property near the border of Los Angeles and Glendale within the next two weeks. With that done, it will begin cleaning up the contaminated dirt left behind by Excello Plating Co. in order to expand the grocer’s distribution center next door.

“The remediation of the Excello parcel with private funds and its restoration to productive use is a win for the community, as well as for Ralphs Grocery Co.,” company spokeswoman Kendra Doyel said.

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The Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board and California Department of Toxic Substances Control cited Excello for violations more than five years ago in an attempt to force it to clear the contamination. That never happened. The property, which includes a roughly 13,800-square-foot building, currently is owned by a trust, which says it can’t afford the clean-up.

But even as state and Ralphs officials applaud the planned remediation — expected to cost from $1.3 million to $2.3 million — the cleanup process may interfere with Glendale’s high-tech facility that is testing methods for stripping chromium 6 from groundwater.

Glendale and other cities in the San Fernando Valley long have grappled with chromium 6 contamination, which has been found to cause cancer. Both state and federal governments may lower limits for the contaminant in drinking water in coming years.

Glendale water is blended with clean, but costly, imported water to get chromium 6 levels to around 5 parts per billion, 10 times less than the state limit.

About a decade ago, Glendale began testing new ways to strip chromium 6 at two sites, one of them at Goodwin Avenue and San Fernando Road, next to the plating facility and the Ralphs distribution site.

During demolition, chromium 6-tainted dust could impact the city’s research, said Leighton Fong, a civil engineer at Glendale Water & Power. Scientists want to get chromium 6 levels at the testing sites below 1 part per billion — an effort that is being closely watched by state and federal officials. Because of the extremely low cap, measurements are very sensitive.

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