Environment & Science

South Gate properties have carcinogenic chemical in groundwater

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Federal environmental officials say they're investigating whether pollution at two Los Angeles County properties warrants cleanup of hazardous waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it's proposing the sites in South Gate for the national priorities list under Superfund law. A metal cleaning solvent was found in soil and water testing at Seam Master Industries and the Jervis B. Webb company.

Seam Master is a carpeting company, but it's suspected the toxic contamination came from a previous tenant, a company that made screw products. The Jervis B. Webb company sits where a rivet manufacturer once fabricated parts in the boom days of aerospace. Shallow groundwater at both sites contains more than the maximum limit for a chemical called trichloroethylene.

Studies have found TCE causes cancer when people encounter it in water. EPA officials say drinking water in deeper underground reservoirs isn't yet contaminated, but they point out that shallow and deeper aquifers can connect and spread pollution.

Now the EPA will do a fuller investigation of the pollution and its source. The results of that study will determine whether the federal government designates the properties as Superfund sites.