CAG: Roads built across Whittaker Bermite land would open up the SCV

Empty dump trucks pull into a soil treatment area to pick up clean dirt as viewed on tour of the clean-up efforts of the Whittaker/Bermite site in Valencia in Oct. 2016. Dan Watson/The Signal

Once a thousand acres of uninhabited hilly terrain in the heart of the Santa Clarita Valley are cleaned to the satisfaction of state officials, newly-built roads could open up the valley and facilitate a faster response by emergency crews, the president of a local citizens’ group said.

“Roads across Via Princessa, for instance, would save loads of time getting across town,” Rick Drew, president of the Whittaker Bermite Citizens’ Advisory Group told The Signal Thursday.

“In terms of public safety, it’s a good idea,” he said.

CAG is a group of community members, which has been meeting for more than a decade, and whose members are concerned about the cleanup of the Whittaker Bermite property located in the center of Santa Clarita.  It meets three times a year to hear reports from the state agencies involved in the clean-up.

On Wednesday, Drew had the opportunity to experience an in-depth audio-visual presentation update on the cleanup of Whittaker-Bermite – twice.

Hassan Amini, operations manager and principal hydrologist with the cleanup firm Amec Foster Wheeler, gave an update on the cleanup to stakeholders at Santa Clarita City Hall in the afternoon and, later, to about a dozen members of CAG.

“My vision is for light industry, with the creation of jobs and that type of thing,” Drew said about best possible use of the Whittaker land once it’s cleaned to the satisfaction of state’s Department of Toxic Substances.

“You get a beautiful view up there, but I don’t know if I would ever want to own a house up there,” he said.

“It would be good open space,” he said. “Building an arena, that would be a good idea.”

Cleanup of the Whittaker Bermite site is expected to wrap up by the end of next year.

Jose Diaz, project manager of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, a division of the state Environmental Protection Agency, said in May that the cleanup of soil, vapor and water on the 996 acres of Whittaker-Bermite is on track to be completed by the end of next year.

Although he is not authorized to reflect on possible development of the area once it’s cleaned, Diaz in his capacity to sign-off on the cleanup once its deemed healthy for citizens to be there, said more than half the area will be OK to develop for most non-residential purposes.

“At least 500 acres will be able to be developed,” Diaz said in May.


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