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Resident Claims Waste Site Near Jr. High Stinks

A Valencia resident says that odor from a former sewage sludge disposal site near Rio Norte Junior High is fouling the air around the campus. Hart District administrators say they have received no complaints of a foul odor at the school. Cam Noltemeyer said The Newhall Land and Farming Co. is grading for future housing all around the junior high, and she wants the William S. Hart Union High School District to take appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of the students at Rio Norte. In a recent letter to Hart district Superintendent Jaime Castellanos, Noltemeyer requested a map showing the location of the sludge site in relation to the Rio Norte. “The smell from the lower athletic fields would indicate that the sewage sludge is much closer than a quarter mile. The recent addition of a drainage pipe through those fields has done nothing to correct the condition,” Noltemeyer wrote. The Los Angeles County Sanitation District used a portion of the property in the 1970s for treated disposal of human waste, said Newhall Land spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer. When Newhall Land prepared to build its 900-acre West Creek housing development of about 2,200 homes there, the environmental impact report for the project included information about soil tests that were done. "Much of the area where sludge was disposed of (was dug up and) put underneath Copper Hill Road. The area where the sludge was, is (now in) an area that is under some utility easements, it’s not where we are grading today. It’s undisturbed,” Lauffer said. Rio Norte is located a quarter of a mile from the former sludge disposal site, said Hart district facilities director Michael Otavka. “The sewage disposal site is down hill from the school, so even from a runoff standpoint, it would never affect (the school),” Otavka said, adding that the information is included in the environmental impact report prepared prior to the school’s opening in 2003.

This story can be found in today's Signal Newspaper.