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Release Date: 8/8/1995
Contact Information: Lois Grunwald, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1588

 (San Francisco)--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) today announced the first family has returned to their fully restored house and yard on Sowell Avenue after the Agency completed the excavation and disposal of buried hazardous waste and contaminated soil from the Ralph Gray Trucking Co. Superfund site, Westminster, Calif.

     Claire and Bob Ross are the first of 12 families that are expected to move back in the next month.  Since the excavation work began one year ago, approximately 45 families have been temporarily relocated for various lengths of time while more than 60,000 tons of petroleum waste were removed from the backyards of about 25 houses at the Superfund site.  

     "We are very happy to welcome Claire and Bob back to their home," said Keith Takata, deputy director of U.S. EPA's hazardous waste management division.  "We appreciate their patience while we completed the excavation.  This site posed an incredible challenge--removing hazardous waste from around and beneath residential properties, but we believe this removal was the best way to protect the health of the families."

      The cleanup, conducted under U.S. EPA's accelerated effort to clean up Superfund sites, was completed in less than three years after the site was designated a Superfund site and placed on the Agency's National Priorities List (NPL) in 1992.

     The site dates back to 1936 when tar-like petroleum refinery waste which contained sulfuric acid and hazardous chemicals were dumped into open pits near Golden West Street and Sowell Avenue by the Ralph Gray Trucking Co.  In 1958 the waste was excavated from the open pits and reburied in residential backyards during development of the housing tract.

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