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Settlement reached over contamination from utility pole storage facility near Santa Barbara Airport

Image courtesy of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – Hot Line Construction Inc. has entered into a consent decree to resolve a lawsuit alleging contamination from treated utility poles stored at a facility near the Santa Barbara Airport from 2014 to 2019.

The consent decree, signed on Oct. 11 of this year, requires Hot Line Construction Inc. to clean up the facility near Goleta as well as take steps to prevent additional contaminated runoff before the upcoming rainy season.

The utility poles were treated with a wood preservative known as pentachlorophenol which contains chemicals known to be toxic to wildlife including dioxins and furans detail Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

On Jun. 8, 2020, the Ecological Rights Foundation and Santa Barbara Channelkeeper sued Southern California Edison and Hot Line Construction Inc. for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for allegedly not using sufficient protective measures to limit pentachlorophenol contamination of nearby water sources at their utility pole storage facilities.

Southern California Edison reached a settlement agreement with the groups and established a remediation and monitoring plan in 2021 that Hot Line Construction Inc. did not participate in.

Monitoring by conservation groups at the utility pole storage facility in Goleta showed elevated levels of dioxins and furans as well as significant soil contamination. Water runoff from the facility eventually reaches the Goleta slough through the storm sewer system detailed Santa Barbara Channelkeeper.

"Pentachlorophenol and its byproducts are highly toxic in aquatic environments,” explains Ted Morton, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Channelkeeper. "The Goleta Slough provides vital habitat for fish, resident and migratory birds, and other wildlife, so it is critically important that the Hot Line site be cleaned up to protect public health and the environment.”

Hot Line Construction Inc. leases the site of the utility pole storage facility from the City of Santa Barbara, which hired a firm to collect soil samples at the facility in the summer of this year.

Those tests confirmed the elevated presence of dioxins and furans and the City of Santa Barbara asked Hot Line Construction Inc. to submit a remediation plan for the site.

The City of Santa Barbara was not a party in either lawsuit mentioned above and the City Attorney's Office directed your author's inquiries to the Santa Barbara Airport.

Included in Santa Barbara Channelkeeper's press release about Tuesday's consent decree was the following quote: '"The City of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Airport take our role as environmental stewards to heart,” said Airport Director Christopher Hastert. “As funders of the Goleta Slough Management Committee, it is our goal to provide for a healthy slough ecosystem by implementing the most beneficial plans, mitigation protection or restoration projects possible. We are pleased that a settlement has been reached to remediate the land.”'

The consent agreement announced on Tuesday requires that Hot Line Construction Inc. enter into a monitoring contract with the Central Coast Regional Water Board's Site Cleanup Program regarding the utility pole storage facility.

Currently, Hot Line is in the early stages of the evaluation process to create a contract for service confirmed the Central Coast Regional Water Board.

Hot Line Construction Inc. was contacted for comment and has not responded.

Article Topic Follows: Santa Barbara - South County
City of Santa Barbara
Ecological Rights Foundation
energy infrastructure
Hot Line Construction
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara Channelkeeper
southern california edison
utility poles

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Andrew Gillies

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