It’s official. The Seal Beach City Council wants BP/ARCO to dig out contaminated soil below a gas station where fumes from an old gasoline leak seeped into neighboring homes last winter, causing three temporary evacuations.

“We want to solve the problem and move on,” City Manager David Carmany said of the three-decades long effort to end the contamination problem. “We don’t want to be doing this for the next 20 years. Enough.”

The council voted unanimously Monday to support that cleanup alternative, and the letter was sent Tuesday to the Orange County Health Care Agency asking that it adopt the excavation plan with “significant” changes from BP/ARCO’s original cleanup proposal.

It has been 25 years since the company was first asked to stop the spread of the soil contamination around the station at Pacific Coast Highway and Fifth Street.

City officials and residents of the Bridgeport neighborhood had been favoring the excavation technique for months but waited until all options proposed by the oil company as well as other outside suggestions were evaluated before officially asking county health officials to support “dig and haul.”

“What we want is for [BP/ARCO] to keep digging and to keep hauling until the contaminated soil is removed,” even if the contamination extends beyond the boundaries of the gas station where the leak occurred, Carmany said.

“If the problem extends into the street, we want them to chase it and remove it,” he said. “If the problem extends into the alley (next to homes), we want them to remove that as well.”

In its cleanup plan, BP/ARCO had proposed excavation as one of the alternatives, but residents and city leaders said they want to be sure enough dirt is taken out and hauled to a safe disposal site to ensure the cleanup is successful.

In addition, they want to be confident that treatment of the remaining soil is done in a way that gets rid of residual contamination — including cancer-causing Benzene fumes and water pollution — without causing other kinds of damage.


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