Petrochemicals detected in 2 groundwater monitoring wells at Lang Station in March 2015

The Lang Station historical landmark marker stands beside the railroad tracks on Lang Station Road near Soledad Canyon Road in Canyon Country. Dan Watson/The Signal

After more than three decades of ongoing cleanup efforts at a toxic site on the east side of the Santa Clarita Valley, environmental engineers found groundwater containing petrochemicals at two locations.

Detectable levels of petrochemicals called “diesel range organics” and “motor oil range organics” in at least two monitoring wells.

There was also a mention of a chemical used in the manufacturing of chemical weapons, in the 2015 report. However, a federal expert explains its presence is allowed.

Engineers who specialize in “restoring damaged environments” have recommended to state environmental officials that cleanup of the toxic site at Lang Station be extended for another six to nine months after high levels of contaminants were found there last year.

Lang Station is a 64-acre site at 1250 Lang Station Road, east of State Route 14 off Soledad Canyon Road.

Engineers with the URS Corporation based in Irvine, now part of Aecom Corporation the company contracted to do the cleanup, told officials with the California Department of Toxic Substances that further testing of both soil and water at the site were needed.

They made their recommendation in October in a report that was intended to be the final chapter in the site’s cleanup carried out over the last three decades.

Instead of closing the book on cleanup and test, further testing and “extraction” of contaminants is needed.

On Thursday morning, a spokesman at Toxic Substances Department was asked about the status of the last test ordered. The spokesman had not responded to The Signal’s query by press time.

Test results
A check with the report prepared for the Toxic Substances Department, however, revealed groundwater levels of petroleum chemicals were found at two monitoring wells at the site.

Engineers assessing the cleanup reported results of tests carried out in March 2015 that showed low impacts to groundwater of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) in two monitoring wells.

They noted that “TPH was not previously tested for during the 1998 sampling event.”

Experts found one monitoring well contained petrochemicals described as “gasoline range organics” in the groundwater.

They also found detectable levels of other petrochemicals called “diesel range organics” and “motor oil range organics” in the same monitoring well and in a second well.

Also contained in the engineering status update of the cleanup was mention of a chemical used in the manufacturing of chemical weapons.

In a section of the report describing the site’s history, report authors mention that the Lubrication  Company of America received, stored, and processed  waste oils  between  1956 until 1989.

“Waste oil was transported to the Site and reclaimed by adding sulfur monochloride and sulfuric acid to precipitate metals contained in the waste oils,” the report states.

Chemical weapons
Sulfur monochloride, however, is listed in a federal guideline of chemicals as a Schedule 3 Part B – Precursor Chemicals of the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington is the federal agency assigned to represent the European Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons when it comes to chemicals that may be subject to control.

The sulfur monochloride used at the Lang Station site, however, would not have necessitated any report be filed with the D.C. officials since it was processed and not produced, a department spokeswoman told The Signal Thursday.

“The Chemical Weapons Convention Regulations (CWCR – 15 CFR Parts 710-729) went into effect on December 31, 1999,” Tracey O’Donnell, of the Information Technology Team, Treaty Compliance Division Office of Nonproliferation and Treaty Compliance, at the Bureau of Industry and Security U.S. Department of Commerce, told The Signal Thursday.

“At that time, and currently, facilities that ‘produce’ the Schedule 3 chemical in quantities exceeding 30 metric tons per year were – or are – subject to declaration requirements for such production,” she said.


The chemical was ‘processed’ not produced, O’Donnell said.

“The CWCR subjects facilities and traders only for production, export and import of listed Schedule 3 chemicals, including sulfur monochloride, in quantities exceeding 30 metric tons per year, according to the agency.

“It appears the facility in question (Lang Station) would never have been subject to the Schedule 3 declaration obligations of the CWCR,” O’Donnell said.

Test results from the last requested sampling requested in October 2016 are expected to be revealed soon, said Russ Edmondson, spokesman for the Department of Toxic Substances, earlier this month.

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