Torpedo Testing Long Gone But Effects Remain

San Gabriel Mountains was former home of a Navy torpedo lab

By John Adams
|  Sunday, Jul 25, 2010  |  Updated 1:30 PM PDT
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Torpedo Testing Long Gone But Effects Remain

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The Navy will be cleaning up after itself beginning now.

The San Gabriel Mountains may be an unlikely site for a U.S. Navy torpedo lab, but 17,000 cubic yards of soil contaminated by torpedo tests is going to be hauled away from a lake in a canyon above Azusa, according to reports.

The Navy tested torpedo engines and shapes in the lake behind Morris Dam beginning in World War II. After 50 years, it closed the facility but left behind bad chemical residue.

Perchlorates, a cancer-causing type of rocket propellant, arsenic and other dangerous compounds coat rocks on the 20-acre test site on a peninsula in the lake, which is a domestic drinking water supply for the San Gabriel Valley.

The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports that the Navy will spend at least $6.5 million to dig up as much of the tainted soil at Morris Reservoir as possible, and truck it down four miles down winding Highway 39 to Azusa. After a trip across Pasadena and over the Grapevine, the tainted rocks will be dumped at the Kettleman City hazardous materials dump, west of Bakersfield.

Trucks will rumble down the road on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. State health officials said no dangerous exposure will be inflicted in the disposal operation, which will start after environmental reports are completed and will be finished in October.

Long concrete chutes that allowed engineers to watch torpedos slide into the water 60 years ago will not be removed, reported the newspaper.
 

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