BP/ARCO Will Cover Six-Figure Consultant Cost on Seal Beach Gas Leak

Picketers outside the Seal Beach BP/ARCO gas station over the Fourth of July weekend. Leaky underground storage tanks have contaminated the soil, and residents have tried for 25 years to get the site cleaned up. (Photo by: Kathleen O'Neill)

BP/ARCO has tentatively agreed to pay Seal Beach $179,983 to cover three months’ work by the town’s environmental consultant on ways to clean up a 25-year-old gasoline spill that caused three homes to be temporarily evacuated, a city announcement said.

The payment news came as both residents and city officials said they are moving closer to an agreement with BP/ARCO on digging out contaminated soil from under the gas station and hauling it to a safe disposal site.

“Still unresolved at this point is the cleanup standards and the extent of the excavation,” said a city update last week. “This regulatory process has more moving parts than a kaleidoscope, and more work is occurring with OCHCA (Orange County Health Care Agency) and with the ARCO representatives at all levels including their Houston headquarters.”

On Saturday, nearly 40 Seal Beach residents manned picket lines outside the station at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Fifth Street, carrying signs that read “Don’t Wait Excavate,” “Dig and Haul It All” and other messages urging the oil company to permanently fix the air and water problems caused by the leak.

BP/ARCO has included excavation options within a cleanup proposal that is pending before county health officials, but residents and city officials said the key is how much soil the company is willing to remove.

Too little excavation could result in pollution problems continuing to move into the adjacent Bridgeport neighborhood, they said. Last winter three homes were temporarily evacuated when benzene fumes, a cancer-causing chemical, seeped into homes behind the gas station. Since then, BP/ARCO has installed vapor pumps to pull out the fumes.

In an update on the clean up, city officials said: “The city is waiting to hear back from ARCO’s Finance group on some details but, good news — the total amount of Dudek (the City’s consultant) invoices that ARCO/BP has indicated it will pay is $179,983, representing reimbursement of February, March and April 2010 invoices.”

— TRACY WOOD

 

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