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Around Town: The real dirt on the Devil's Gate cleanup

December 11, 2013|By Anita S. Brenner

A lot of La Cañadans dismissed the Altadena claims. Altadena, after all, is not La Cañada.

In 1999, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded that "because the past levels of human exposure to perchlorate are unknown...the site should be assigned to the Indeterminate Public Health Hazard category for potential past human exposures to perchlorate in drinking water." The agency also found that there was no apparent public health hazard for "past, present, and potential future human exposure to VOC-contaminated groundwater processed for drinking water and surface soils or soil gases." (Report, “Public Health Assessment Jet Propulsion Laboratory (NASA) Pasadena, Los Angeles County, California.”) The report did not address a five-year excavation of Devil's Gate.

The point here is not to bash JPL, but to note the legitimate concerns about the proposed five-year cleanup project. Common sense tells us that the soil that is removed is likely to be dangerous. The agency study agreed that children are more susceptible, but failed to record the presence of summer day camps.


Our concern in 2013 is not causation of damages in the past, but prevention of possible harm in the future. This is not about inconvenience of excavation trucks on our roads between 2014 and 2019, but about the risk to the children. Once the project begins, will the arroyo be off-limits to kids? What will be the safeguards? Have additional studies been completed?

Let’s address these issues openly. We have a legitimate interest in preserving the good lives that we have, right here in La Cañada.


ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.

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