A collection of chemicals used to make gopher bombs has prompted a Superfund cleanup at a foreclosed home in a residential neighborhood in Oceanside.
A powerful chemical smell emanates from the two-story home at 1428 San Simeon Street near the front gate of Camp Pendleton.
Firefighters, called to the scene Thursday after neighbors’ complaints, discovered four storage buildings in the home’s backyard. The storage sheds are full of liquid and solid hazardous waste.
They also found a number of container hidden by weeds and a 3-foot-square underground storage area -- all filled with containers of unidentified liquids.
The former resident told officials her deceased husband’s company bought and sold hazardous materials to making gopher eradication devices.
Fire officials say the devices included toxic smoke producing powder, as well as bombs that detonated inside the gopher burrows.
Health department staffers worked alongside Hazmat personnel, crews from two fire departments and sheriff's arson and bomb squad.
A dozen Hazmat techs worked for over five hours to locate and identify all of the material Thursday. Much of it was in unmarked bottles, drums, bags and boxes. Everything had to be tested and categorized. Approximately 2000 pounds of aluminum powder was removed from the site -- all of the other materials are still here.
A clean-up crew will work Friday to package and remove the remaining hazardous materials. The work is expected to take the weekend.
The site has been approved to use State and Federal "Superfund" money to fund the cleanup the dangerous mess.
This is a residential neighborhood, but fire crews say no one needed to be evacuated. Beginning next week, city and county officials will work on an environmental testing plan to ensure that no contaminated soil or other material is left on site.
Fire officials say furthermore, the previous homeowners had illegally built the 4 storage sheds on city property. The city is now working on a legal investigation.