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Meeting to be held over soil worries

Environment: State officials distribute fact sheet to preschool parents about possible contaminants

Posted: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: January 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Administrators at a Valencia-area preschool are awaiting soil test results this week after state officials monitoring the cleanup of a nearby dry cleaner traced contaminated soil to its property line.

The chlorinated solvents, which are associated with dry cleaning, pose no immediate threat to human health, state officials said in a fact sheet distributed earlier this month to parents of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church preschool.

The soil behind the dry cleaning shop — located 15 stair steps above the preschool’s courtyard where children play — is undergoing cleanup after a recent environmental investigation revealed that chlorinated solvents had been released into the soil and that the contamination extended to the preschool’s property line.

“The known contamination does not pose an immediate threat to human health and does not warrant any changes to the current operations or activities of the cleaners or local businesses, but will require cleanup to prevent long-term exposure and potential health effects,” according to the fact sheet from the state Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The owner of the Old Orchard Shopping Center dry cleaning shop could not be reached Monday in two phone calls and a visit to the business.

The chemicals found in the soil were perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene, or PCE and TCE, both used in dry cleaning and for industrial cleaning of metal parts.

Tests conducted by the state toxics department in December indicated the presence of the chemicals; officials who manage the preschool demanded the state immediately test the soil in the school’s courtyard where preschoolers play, St. Stephen’s priest, the Rev. Susan Bek, said Monday.

“We asked them to move fast on this,” Bek said.

Results of tests last Tuesday are expected by Wednesday.

The church held two meetings with parents about the situation last week and has tentatively scheduled one Thursday evening to discuss the results of the tests.

“Our concern, of course, is the health of our kids,” Bek said. “I want to be absolutely sure when I reassure parents about this. What I’ve been told is that there are no immediate health concerns.”

Although there are no “acute risks” identified with the testing already done, a cleanup and further tests are required in addressing concerns about long-term exposure, DTSC officials said.

At least one parent of a St. Stephen’s preschooler told The Signal on Sunday: “I’m kind of concerned since the school is open and they haven’t gotten the test results.”

The school was closed Monday due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.


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