Seal Beach City Manager David Carmany recently went to Houston to meet with top executives of BP/ARCO to discuss the best way to clean up a 25-year-old gasoline leak.

And he says he came away optimistic that the problem will at long last be resolved.

“I was very impressed with the extent to which the people at BP headquarters in Houston were familiar with the details of the Seal Beach problem,” he said.

For decades BP/ARCO has avoided dealing with contaminated soil caused by leaky storage tanks under a station at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Fifth Street.

But in recent months, the oil giant has bowed to pressure from residents and the Seal Beach City Council to excavate the contaminated dirt and haul it to a safe disposal site.

In May, it proposed a two-part clean up program that includes excavation but also uses electrical resistance heating to heat up pollutants in the soil to the point they evaporate.

The Orange County Health Care Agency will send out a letter Aug. 10 telling the oil company what procedures to use to rid the station of contamination.

Neighbors have strongly supported “dig and haul” as the most effective, longterm method of cleaning up the site where three homes were temporarily evacuated in the winter.

And they are emphatic about wanting all of the contaminated soil removed, not just under the station itself, but under adjacent streets, alleys and homes to make sure the problem is permanently solved. BP has not committed to such an extensive excavation. The thoroughness of the cleanup will be determined by the county health agency.

Carmany said the corporation’s retail devision, not its contamination remediation division, would make the final decision on whether to rebuild the station.

Among those the city manager met with July 22 in Houston were Pat King, BP global vice president for remediation management.

“I think BP at all levels is aware of and cognizant of our situation,” Carmany said. “It’s moving along now.”


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