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Whittaker-Bermite no place for a spring hike, officials say

Posted: April 1, 2013 6:17 p.m.
Updated: April 1, 2013 6:17 p.m.

As spring greens up the hillsides and brings out the wildflowers around Santa Clarita Valley wildlands, some local residents have apparently decided the Whittaker-Bermite site is a good place to walk a dog, go dirt-biking or take a hike.

Officials at the site say that’s a really bad idea.

“They’ve deemed it their own personal open space,” maintenance man Lew Latka said of trespassers who enter the property, which is fenced and marked no trespassing.

The nearly 1,000 acres of mostly vacant land in the center of Santa Clarita is a former munitions manufacturing plant that’s undergoing contamination cleanup.

On Friday, while driving the property’s fenced-in perimeter, Latka said he came across a woman walking her dog.

“I asked her, ‘Where did you come in?’

“‘Right down there by Bownman High School,’ she said.

“I told the woman, ‘You’re walking on contaminated soil.’

“She said, ‘I’m not licking the dirt.’”

Both Latka and a Whittaker Corp. official said there’s no immediate danger to hikers because of perchlorate and other contaminants on the property south of Soledad Canyon Road and east of Bouquet Canyon Road. But there are plenty of other dangers posed by the land.

It’s not public property and it’s not insured, so individuals who have an accident there are on their own financially, the Whittaker official said.

Currently, the property is undergoing a search for unexploded ordnance.

Rattlesnakes and cliffs are some of the dangers cited by Latka, who added, “Please stay away.”




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