Not many cities have almost one thousand acres of vacant land lying in their center. Santa Clarita’s Whittaker-Bermite property is a 996 acre plot of land neighbored by Soledad Canyon Road on the north, Golden Valley Road on the east, Railroad Avenue on the west and Circle J Ranch on the south.
The property has contamination issues, the result of 50 years of various operations including the manufacturing of dynamite, fireworks and munitions for the department of defense. Those operations are responsible for leaving the contaminants that remain in the area to this day and consequently, those contaminants will take a lot of work to clean up. Whittaker is funding the clean-up, and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is in charge of monitoring the operation.
Jose Diaz, Project Manager Scientist for the DTSC states the two most abundant contaminants on the property are perchlorate and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These contaminants are embedded in Whittaker’s top soil and ground water. Diaz assures everyone living or working in the surrounding community are completely safe.
The city’s current general plan for the property includes new roads, schools, parks and single-family housing units, but the land’s top soil will need to be cleaned before any new development can begin. Top soil is projected to be complete by the end of 2016. Ground water will take at least 20 years to complete, but the DTSC states ground water will not pose any health risks. The city has not announced when they plan to begin development.