Over the Labor Day weekend, a brush fire burned vegetation in the future 132 freeway right of way. The specific location was on the top of one of the mounds containing toxic waste.
According to an agreement between Caltrans and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control (DTSC), Caltrans is to maintain vegetation on the mounds in order to reduce runoff from the toxic waste piles. Until new vegetation is planted, the brush fire has put Caltrans out of compliance with the agreement.
According to area residents, a gate that is supposed to keep the public off of the toxic waste mounds has usually been open for the past three months, enabling public access to the site. According to the agreement Caltrans has with the DTSC, public access to the toxic waste site is to be prevented to the extent possible. Failure to keep the gate closed and locked represents a violation of the agreement.
The DTSC and Caltrans are due to release a recommendation to the public in the month of September 2013 announcing whether the toxic waste mounds are to be removed before the freeway is built. Caltrans has already expressed a preference for keeping the mounds in place and building the freeway above them.
The latest evidence that Caltrans is not maintaining the toxic waste site per the agreement with DTSC undermines the contention that Caltrans will adequately monitor the waste mounds after the new freeway is built.
As of this writing, no comment has been received from Caltrans or the DTSC regarding the latest incident at the toxic waste site. We’ll update the story if and when we know more and also when the proposed disposition of the toxic waste mounds is announced.