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EPA to remove contaminated soil that triggered Barstow water emergency

December 3, 2012 |  5:12 pm

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Federal environmental officials this week will begin excavating 1,100 tons of perchlorate-laced soil from a former Barstow fireworks manufacturing site that contaminated the city’s drinking water supply in November 2010.

The contamination led to a temporary ban on water use in Barstow just before Thanksgiving that year, leading the governor to declare a state of emergency and forcing residents to stockpile bottled water. The town’s water utility, Golden State Water Co., was forced to flush the city’s water system.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency traced the chemical pollutant to residential property that was home to a now-defunct fireworks company, Mojave River Pyrotechnics, where “significant perchlorate contamination” was found.

The contamination traveled about 3,000 feet, seeping down a utility trench, until it created a plume of perchlorate in the soil next to one of Barstow’s main drinking water wells, according to the federal investigative reports.

The EPA plans to remove the top three feet of soil from the contaminated site and truck the dirt to a special landfill that handles toxic materials. The contaminated areas will be covered in plastic and clean dirt will be used to fill in the pit. The excavation is expected to take three weeks.

--Phil Willon in Riverside

Photo: Volunteers in Barstow line up to unload a truckload of fresh drinking  water in November 2010. Credit:  Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times.

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