Pacific Swell | Southern California environment news and trends

Superfund site of the Week: Maywood's Pemaco Chemical Company, now a city park




The federal law called CERCLA - the friendly term is Superfund - is supposed to create a structure for cleaning up toxic pollution, and often in its history the law and its regulators have operated with the idea that polluters should pay to clean up their messes (though not now, which is a story for a different day). But what if the polluters aren't around anymore?

Our Superfund site of the week - the former Pemaco Chemical Company - illustrates some of the more common challenges to the kinds of toxic pollution that federal law is supposed to make companies clean up. Pemaco was one of many companies that worked with chemicals in the LA basin; it started doing what it did in the 19-forties. And it stopped existing before it cleaned up its mess.

And as for the 6th W, WHY CARE: You can be an environmental disaster tourist and visit the place! Maywood has two parks in the city now: this is one of them. According to the Trust for Public Land, "Maywood is the most densely populated city west of the Mississippi, home to more than 30,000 residents in only 1.13 square miles." This site really only became a park once TPL helped the city obtain more land next to the old Pemaco site - including the former businesses W. W. Henry, Precision Arrow, Lubricating Oil and the LA Junction Railroad.  KCET and the LA River site both are kind of lukewarm on the area and its walking options. They write that "there is not much in the way of nature, but there is a stark beauty in the vast concrete channel. While this walk is not recommended to introduce newcomers to the river, it’s important to become familiar with the challenges facing those who would restore the river and bring amenities to under-served areas."

Last week's Superfund SOTW: Palos Verdes Shelf. 

(Photo by JustEfrain licensed through Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons license.)