Sally White: Only an incomplete cleanup

Operations Manger Hassan Amini, right, describes the soil cleanup process by natural biological agents in the soil during a tour to view cleanup efforts of the Whittaker-Bermite site in Oct. 2016. Dan Watson/The Signal

In a recent issue of The Signal we learned that there is light at the end of the tunnel (CAG: Roads built across Whittaker Bermite land would open up the SCV) and that the Whittaker-Bermite land, about 1,000 acres of uninhabited hilly terrain in the heart of Santa Clarita, will eventually be sufficiently safe to build access roads across the valley to ease local traffic.

This land might also be suitable for light industry and parks; however, it could not be used for homes, or for any use that would require occupation on a 24/7 basis.

Eventually we learn that out of the almost 1,000 acres undergoing cleanup, “at least 500 acres” will be suitable for development, but not for full-time occupation.

This can be a learning experience for the entire community. From 1934 until 1987 explosives were manufactured and tested, and certain of those items were burned and buried on the site. These explosives included such things as dynamite, practice bombs, flares, fireworks, oil field explosives, igniters, gas generators, ammunition rounds, JATO rockets, and sidewinder and spin rocket motors.

The list of toxic materials or mixtures of materials used at the site is extremely extensive, and a bit frightening.

At the time much of this work, and the co-occurring actions which proved detrimental to the property, were being accomplished it is likely that there were few environmental restrictions. While it seems immoral to dump these toxic materials in the ground, it might not have been illegal at that time.

Of course, many more restrictions are in place now, and the necessity to control activities that harm the environment and, eventually the people, is very clear to see.

We currently have an administration that is seeking to reduce the protections provided by the EPA and other agencies that protect our land, water and air. We can see, right here in our own back yard, what a disaster can happen when we are not mindful!

In this case, the use of almost 1,000 acres of land has been cut in half, and even the “reasonably safe” 500 acres left will not be suitable for full-time occupation. We must stand up for the protection of our environment as it is purely and simply a method of keeping us safe. We are important, and must keep watch on what is happening around us.

We need to speak up when elected officials, thinking about being re-elected or remembering promises to past donors, vote for continued damage and insults to our environment. These insults are most often perpetrated by moneyed corporations; instead of protecting us, our representatives ever so often go along with the perpetrators. The old money-over-people game.

George Santayana is credited with this quote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Speak out. Do not let another Whittaker-Bermite or Flint Michigan happen on our watch.

Sally White is a Valencia resident.

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