State and local officials are working to clean up toxic land in Santa Ana before they build affordable housing on the property for low-income families.
A total of 86 homes are proposed on the site in an industrial area of Santa Ana’s Logan neighborhood, next to the 5 Freeway along Washington Blvd.
For decades, gasoline and diesel fuel was stored in four underground tanks at the property when it hosted trucking companies and vehicle repair services, according to the county.
Then, in 2019, county and city officials moved forward with a $45 million affordable housing project at the site, dubbed Crossroads at Washington.
A few months later, they discovered toxic contaminants at the property.
They include tetrachloroethylene, also known as PCE, which likely causes cancer in humans according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Long-term exposure to PCE can hurt brain performance and damage kidneys, livers, immune systems and reproduction, according to the EPA.
People exposed to the contaminant in workplaces have had higher rates of cancer, including bladder cancer, non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma, according to studies cited by the EPA.
The toxic cleanup is estimated to cost up to $2 million, paid either by the developer or equally by the county and city’s public housing authorities if the developer can’t get loan funding for it.
The contamination is at a high enough level that the cleanup should be overseen by a public agency, according to the county.
At first, the county’s own Health Care Agency was overseeing the contamination cleanup.
But the health agency later decided to hand it off to the state’s specialists on toxic contamination at the Department of Toxic Substances Control.
The cleanup work is set to be authorized as part of agreements that go to county supervisors for approval today.
County officials did not include any of the reports or studies of the toxic contaminants at the site in their public agenda attachments about the cleanup effort.
Nick Gerda covers county government for Voice of OC. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.