A Moorpark businessman is eager to put the Lang Station property — the contaminated site owned by the Lubrication Company of America — to good commercial or industrial use, once state officials monitoring the cleanup give him the green light.
“We’re just waiting for DTSC (Department of Toxic Substances Control) to finish work on it,” said Louis McCutcheon, who wants to buy the land — a 64-acre site at 1250 Lang Station Road, east of Highway 14, off Soledad Canyon Road.
The Lang Station property was subjected to state soil tests in June after decades of cleanup efforts.
In the time taken for state officials to dig more monitoring wells on the site, take soil samples and test them back at the lab, the now-coveted property has remained in escrow since November 2017, McCutcheon said.
“I would like to see it move ahead,” he said.
The land purchase is expected to close before year’s end.
Early land use
The Lubrication Company of America started recycling used oil at Lang Station at an oil processing and recycling plant in 1969. For eight years, it recycled bunker fuels, used engine oil, jet fuels and hydraulic oil.
It also handled wastes containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), sulfuric acid, sulfur monochloride and heavy metals, storing mixed oily wastes containing PCBs, acids, caustics, solvents and other potentially hazardous substances.
In 1983, officials with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control discovered the company’s “poor work practices resulted in releases of hazardous substances.”
In its online folio about the site, the state agency noted: “During the rainy season, the contaminated surface water runoff could potentially impact the Santa Clara River.”
Consequently, they found numerous violations at the facility between June 1983 and 1986. On March 16, 1987, officials told the company to clean up the site, issuing an order called a remedial action order.
The cleanup stalled. Eight months after having issued the order, Toxic Substances Control officials issued a determination that the company had not complied with the cleanup order.
McCutcheon spent about $100,000 for the environmental testing, he said, even though state officials increased funding for the cleanup last year from $450,000 to $2.1 million.
Toxic Substances Control officials called for further cleanup and testing last year after finding residual chemicals and harmful volatile organic compounds still on the site. They are expecting a cleanup report April 19.
State officials, who have been communicating with The Signal via email for the past two years, were asked Thursday morning about the status of those latest cleanup efforts. They weren’t available for comment Thursday.
McCutcheon’s hope is to turn the property into an industrial outdoor storage facility.
In a document prepared for the California Environmental Protection Agency called a prospective purchaser application, McCutcheon’s vision for the property is spelled out.
It reads: “Buyer intends to use the site for outdoor storage of rubber-tired heavy equipment, certain types of railroad repair and construction materials, and possibly cargo containers.
“Buyer might consider a land use covenant that would limit or prohibit buyer’s — and its successors’ — ability to build any structures within the existing cap.”
By “cap,” the EPA officials were referring to an asphalt cap, which serves as a lid on the soil.
In a section of the EPA document titled “Benefit To The Community,” those benefits are described by McCutcheon as: “restoring it to productive use after many dormant years as an ‘orphan’ site.”
Although it is considered an ‘orphan’ site because it was apparently abandoned, the responsible party for the property, which still holds the title, is the Lubrication Company of America.
The other benefit of using Lang Station again, McCutcheon said in his answer to the EPA, is in the jobs it’s expected to create.
“A presently unknown number of jobs may be created. Buyer’s intended use of the property also potentially could benefit, at least indirectly, Metrolink and the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority.”
McCutcheon said that he’s done his due diligence on the property.
Earlier this year, he paid for his own soil and water testing, announcing in March that he found the site to be “extremely clean.”
His own hired drilling of the property happened in February, enabling him to collect soil and water samples, all with the ultimate goal of purchasing the property.