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Speedway property OK’d for current use

Posted: November 18, 2013 5:50 p.m.
Updated: November 18, 2013 5:50 p.m.

Environmental inspectors have determined the Saugus Speedway property, which abuts the contaminated Whittaker-Bermite land, has been satisfactorily cleaned up and is approved for its current use, a state official said Monday.

“For our intents and purposes, the property was investigated and our part is done,” Sandy Nax of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control said Monday.

Environmental concerns about the 35-acre site next to the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station were raised earlier this month at a meeting of the Whittaker-Bermite Citizens Advisory Group, which updates the public regularly on the progress of the Whittaker-Bermite cleanup.

The speedway property is home to the Saugus Swap Meet — one of Santa Clarita Valley’s longest-running events.

The environmental group’s main concern was the possibility of lead contamination left by paint applied to the speedway bleachers years ago. Lead was banned from household paints nationwide in 1978 due to its health effects.

“There was no lead in that paint,” speedway property owner Doug Bonelli told The Signal. “We had it all tested, (and) they found no lead in that paint.”

“As far as I’m concerned, the cleanup is done,” said Bonelli, who serves as managing director of the swap meet.

However, if Bonelli wants to build a house or any sort of dwelling on the property, a more thorough cleaning has to be done, said Nax. That has nothing to do with the former race track’s old bleachers, but rather the possibility that potentially harmful chemicals are migrating under the soil from the neighboring Whittaker-Bermite site.

“It’s not suitable for unrestricted use,” Nax said. “If he (Bonelli) does decide to develop the property, he needs a more comprehensive cleanup.”

The migrating contaminants — including perchlorate and chlorinated volatile organic compounds — may be present beneath the speedway property, according to cleanup documents posted online by state regulators.

The Whittaker-Bermite site, south of Soledad Canyon Road and east of Bouquet Canyon Road, was a location for manufacturing explosives and munitions from the 1930s until 1987. Its 996 acres just south of the Saugus Speedway are sometimes called Santa Clarita’s “doughnut hole” because of their strategic central location within the city.

The Whittaker-Bermite site cleanup falls under the direction of the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.
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