City officials see jobs with Whittaker-Bermite cleanup

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 October. Dan Watson/The Signal


City officials eyeing a thousand acres of cleaned- up decontaminated property in the heart of Santa Clarita, see the opportunity of creating jobs.

After listening to engineers explain their sophisticated process of cleaning up 996 acres of contaminated Whittaker-Bermite property and how cleanup is expected to wrap-up next year, one member of the public asked the panel of officials what the city plans to do with it.

Tom Cole, director of community development for the City of Santa Clarita, said in a nutshell: jobs.

“From the city’s perspective, this has a variety of uses, it is a mixed use property – all talked about over the years,” he said.

“Jobs are very important to this community and to the city.  We’d like to work towards that in the future.”

State officials monitoring the cleanup since it began in the mid-80’s say the property – once cleaned – can be used for a variety of purposes except for one.  No one can live on the property day to day, year round, 24-7.

SCV residents will be able by the end of next year, to jog there, fly kites there, dine, work and open up a business in the heart of the SCV, Jose Diaz, project manager of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, a division of the state Environmental Protection Agency, revealed in March.

Whittaker-Bermite, once cleaned, will be suitable for commercial development, restaurants, parks, schools, recreation and open space.  The only structure that cannot be built there are homes.

So, if we can’t live there, why not work there?

Jobs are the City’s vision for the future of Whittaker Bermite, according to the message Cole shared publicly Wednesday.

“Whoever comes forward with – as the successor of the property, a qualified developer – jobs, in the end are very important.

“Whoever is going to be successful in this selection process we obviously look forward to working with that group on a plan that meets the objectives of the city council and the community in general,” Cole said.

About a dozen officials representing various stakeholders in the Whittaker-Bermite property met at City Hall Wednesday afternoon for their regular update on the cleanup.

The updating session was called: Summary of soil and groundwater remediation activities at the Bermite facility.”

“Today represents a bit of a milestone in the process,” Eric G. Lardiere, senior vice president for Meggitt-USA Inc., which owns the Whittaker Corporation, told stakeholders and about eight spectators.

“And that is the kickoff of operations of the on-site groundwater treatment and containment system,” he said.

Construction of the Saugus Aquifer Treatment Plant to remove harmful perchlorate from groundwater at the contaminated Whittaker-Bermite site, next to the Metrolink Station on Soledad Canyon Road was completed last month.

Lardiere thanked, in particular, the engineer who has led the cleanup – Hassan Amini, operations manager and principal hydrologist for the cleanup firm Amec Foster Wheeler.

Using a slide show of photos he had taken over the years, Amini likened his detailed documentation of the cleanup to that of a proud father photographing his child from infancy and to maturity.

Amini gave the same presentation Wednesday night to about a dozen people attending a regular meeting of the Whittaker Bermite Citizens’ Advisory Group — or CAG – at Santa Clarita United Methodist Church at 26640 Bouquet Canyon Road, at Espuella Road.


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