On May 31, 2009, a fire occurred at commercial ammuntion reloading business located at a residential property in Reseda, California. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The fire originated in a conex box storing a reported 200 pounds of black powder and and an unknown amount of ammuntion. The fire destroyed 4 conex boxes containing black powder, ammuntion and other reloading supplies. The fire also destroyed numerous unknown chemical containers on-site. The fire released a 55 gallon drum of sulfuric acid into the fire suppression water. The fire was contained to an area approximately 75' x 50' and did not impact the rest of the property which is filled with a large amount of ammunition, reloading supplies and black powder.
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On June 1, 2009, the Los Angeles County Fire Department Health Hazmat Division (HHMD)contacted the Region 9 Spill Phone Duty officer and requested assistance. The Spill Phone Duty OSC dispatch OSC Robert Wise to the site to provide the requested technical assistance.
When OSC Wise arrived on-site, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was in the process of serving a search warrant on the property. LAPD Bomb Squad had already been on-site and cleared the site. HHMD was also on-site and had cited the business owner and the property owner.
Upon arriving on-site, OSC Wise and the START examined the burned area as well as the rest of the site. Niether EPA or START entered the burn area due to the large amount of fire damaged munitions ranging from small arms to 50 caliber rounds visible. After examining the site, and discussing the site with HHMD, OSC Wise made the determination that the site met the requirements under CERCLA for a removal action. The fire impinged ammunition met the defintion of a reactive waste pursuant to 40 CFR 261.23(6) and (8). There is also a large amount of small containers impacted by the fire, drums reported to contain spent perchloroethylene and trichloroethylene and black powders in the fire area.
Based on the immediate hazard of the site, OSC Wise notified the ERRS Project Officer and authorized the immediate deployment of an ERRS Response Manager to begin removal planning. OSC Wise also authorized the START to deploy UXO assets from their teaming subcontractor to assist in the assessment of the burned areas. OSC Wise also directed the START to collect for 24-hour turn around soil samples on an adjacent property to evaluate the threat to the residents of that property.
OSC Wise issued a CERCLA General Notice to the business owner and the property owner, who both live on-site.
EPA, PST and its contractors segregatedthe fire impacted solid waste debris, fire damaged live ammunition, brass and scrap metal. The PRP was ordered by LAPD to get rid of the explosive powders on-site and failed to comply. LAPD has referred the powder issue to EPA for disposal. On June 19, 2009 in a joint operations with LAPD and FBI Bomb Squads, LAFD and EPA, approximately 200-300 pounds of gunpowder was destroyed on-site.
Throughout the cleanup, the LAPD Bomb Squad was on-site to examine or render safe a number of military munitions including land mines, hand grenades, smoke grenades, flares, rifle grenades, cluster bomb submunitions and large caliber ammunition (50 cal, 20mm, 25mm, 30mm, 75mm and 90mm).
Approximately 15-25 thousand pounds of fire damaged and off-spec ammon was transported to USMC Camp Pendleton and destroyed during a training burn.