Riverside community exposed to contaminated soil wants more testing

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“How do you think we feel knowing the perimeter of that park is poison?,” neighbor, Marilyn Whitney, said. 

Whitney and other neighbors are angry at state officials over contaminated land they said is making them sick. 

“The whole field was covered” another person shouted out. 

Their interruptions made it hard for the Department of Toxic Substance Control, DTSC, to give information at a meeting Thursday night. 

“Let’s let him do the presentation,” a department representative said to the crowd. 

The presentation was about the department’s proposed soil sampling at roughly 30 homes to test for cancer causing chemicals or PCB’s around the perimeter of what’s known as, Ag park.

But neighbors aren’t satisfied. 

“They need to go every house, there are 30 houses for what over 60 acres that’s not enough,” Angela Betancourt, neighbor, said. 

Some residents believe their homes, inside and outside, are contaminated with PCB’s from a 2003 sewage spill at the site. 

They blame the spill for what they say is dozens of cancer deaths in the Arlanza neighborhood and continued sicknesses. 

“It’s unbelievable that three living beings got Cushings disease at my address,” resident, Richard Wall, said. 

DTSC, which is currently cleaning the property, said in the presentation there is “no significant risk of exposure to the community at the Ag Park site as it sits today.” 

But neighbors are wary after soil testing in 2015 found contaminated soil. 

The agency has now agreed to expand testing to nearby homes. 

“This is the first step of our investigation if we find that there has been migration then we will have to investigate it to what level and how far it has migrated,” Mohsen Nazemi, Department of Toxic Substance Control, said. 

Nazemi said the agency will use it’s own technical staff and not rely on a contractor to do the sampling off site to make sure that they follow the protocol and do the sampling right

But neighbors said they would prefer an independent investigation.  

“This week I sent off sampling from the inside of my house to a private lab that I will pay for,” Whitney said. 

DTSC is accepting public input on how to do the soil sampling by April 7, 2017 before making any final plans. 

A development company called Friends of Riverside Airport plans to build over 100 homes on the property. 

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