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EPA To Investigate Wyle Labs

NORCO: Neighbors contend contamination from the defense contractor threatens their health.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will begin an investigation into Wyle Laboratories this week to determine whether the site warrants a federally funded cleanup effort, officials said Monday.

Residents have long alleged that contamination at Wyle threatens the health of people living nearby. Monday's announcement by the EPA coincided with a pledge from the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice for about $50,000 in funding along with legal and technical aid to help in the neighbors' efforts.

"Until now, our concerns have fallen on deaf ears," said TJ Kawana, who lives next to the lab. "The city has given us empty promises and condescending remarks and too little, too late. We've had to go to the state and federal level to find someone who will listen to us."

Wyle Labs contracts with the Department of Defense and is authorized to handle radioactive materials and test warheads and missiles. Ground water and soil there have tested positive for toxins and cancer-causing substances such as perchlorate, trichloroethene, dichloroethene and vinyl chloride. A developer has bought the land and plans to build homes there in the next two years.

The EPA investigation could take more than six months, said Betsy Curnow, the EPA's site assessment section chief. The agency decided on the investigation in part because it hadn't examined Wyle since the 1980s before many neighboring homes were built, she said.

Wyle Labs spokesman Keith Anderson said the company will cooperate with the EPA just as it has always cooperated with California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

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