SCV residents invited to update on Whittaker-Bermite cleanup

The Saugus Aquifer Treatment Plant removes perchlorate from groundwater at Whittaker Bermite in this 2017 Signal file photo. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal


Anyone wanting an update on the cleanup of nearly 1,000 acres in the heart of the Santa Clarita Valley should drop by a meeting of the Whittaker Bermite Citizens’ Advisory Group Wednesday.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m., at the Santa Clarita United Methodist Church on Bouquet Canyon Road,  at Espuella Drive.

The update includes a report on the meeting of “multi-jurisdictional” stakeholders who represent each of the agencies involved with or impacted by the cleanup.

It also includes an up-to-date assessment on the cleanup as it stands today from officials with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the state agency mandated to oversee the cleanup these past three decades.

Those who attended CAG’s last meeting in July, were treated to a PowerPoint Presentation given by Hassan Amini, the clean up’s lead engineer and project manager with the cleanup firm Amec Foster Wheeler.

CAG attendees learned from Amini about the extraction of harmful vapors from the soil, specifically the extraction of volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, from the contaminated ground.

At the most recent CAG meetings, however, focus has shifted to cleaning up the groundwater.

In July, Amini shared a number of insights about the efforts to remove harmful perchlorate from groundwater found at different locations throughout the sprawling 996 acres of Whittaker-Bermite.

Groundwater inside the northern alluvium – underground water at the north end of the site – was found to be more shallow that other underground areas.  Water found in this spot, had to be handled on a “pump and treat” basis until the wells went dry.

Groundwater found trapped in rocks and crevices required what officials described for CAG as perched groundwater treatment – or simply, flushing the water out of those rocks.  A plan to do this has been submitted to the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

Most notable of the developments in groundwater treatment, however, this year’s completion of the machine that turns toxic water into clean water.

In April, the Saugus Aquifer Treatment Plant on Whittaker-Bermite property next to the Metrolink Train Station on Soledad Canyon Road went into effect.

The plant removes perchlorate from the groundwater and discharges the cleaned water back into the watershed.

For up to a decade, more than half a dozen drinking-water wells in the Santa Clarita Valley have gone unused because they are contaminated with perchlorate, a potentially harmful chemical byproduct of munitions manufacturing. The contamination is believed to come from the Whittaker-Bermite site south of Saugus Speedway on Soledad Canyon Road.

Perchlorate has been shown to interfere with the uptake of iodide by the thyroid gland and to thereby reduce the production of thyroid hormones, leading to adverse effects associated with inadequate hormone levels.

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