Residents at El Cajon Mobile Home Park Concerned Over Testing of Possible Toxic Plume

The affected area covers approximately two miles, stretching from Greenfield Drive all the way to Gillespie Field

An El Cajon community gathered for a public meeting Wednesday to discuss the testing done in the area for possible toxins in the air and groundwater.

The affected area covers approximately two miles, stretching from Greenfield Drive all the way to Gillespie Field.

In October, the San Diego Water Board informed residents living on the 700 block of Greenfield Drive of voluntary testing for possible contaminants.

On Wednesday, some residents received long-awaited answers while others remain concerned over the impact.

Test results for Magnolia Elementary School, which has been tested for contaminants in the soil and air since 1994, were negative for contaminants. But 19 residents at Starlight Mobile Home Park learned that their properties will also be tested for possible contaminants.

"We know the vapors are underground," said Craig Carlisle, Senior Engineering Geologist from the Regional Water Quality Control Board. "The questions we're answering again are how many of those vapors are in the ambient air."

But residents NBC 7 spoke to say not knowing if they have been living in a toxic plume all this time is very concerning.

"When we moved in, we were never told there was this plume or whatever it's called and how are we ever going to sell to get out there?" resident Sandra Pepper said.

She added that she is afraid of getting sick from any possible contaminants.

Resident Janice Melroy had other questions.

"Does that have any impact on the produce on our yards and impact the ones we eat?" Melroy asked.

But the Water Quality Board says the contaminated plume is so deep underground, it shouldn't impact plants. Since the Helix Water Department provides water to the City of El Cajon, drinking water is also not affected.

The toxic plume is located where the former aerospace facility Ketema/AMETEK was based, which opened in the 1950s. The company had dumped chemicals into the groundwater that were discovered after testing in 1987 when chlorinated solvents in the groundwater.

Since then, environmental agencies have been monitoring the soil and groundwater, as well as taking steps to clean up the contamination.

The levels of chlorinated solvents have decreased over the years. Sixty groundwater monitoring wells were also installed as part of the investigation and cleanup efforts.

Ketema/Ametek is leading the testing under the supervision of the San Diego Water Board and the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Meanwhile, this issue has gained some celebrity power, catching the eye of consumer advocate Erin Brokovich. She reached out to the residents on Facebook, asking them to contact her if they believe they have been impacted.

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