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Hazardous Materials Found in Bellflower, Residents Evacuated

Shed inside Aztec Mobile Home Estates that contained the materials.


By Tammye McDuff

Late Tuesday morning, residents at the Aztec Mobile Homes Estates were given a scare when the discovery of barrels containing a supposed radioactive liquid were found stored in a shed located on Alondra Boulevard.

Two lanes of traffic on Alondra Blvd. near Stevens Ave. will be closed until further notice. There is no more information available at this time.

Public Information Officer for the Lakewood Sheriff Station, Sergeant Moses, spoke exclusively to HMG, “We were called out to investigate a hazmat situation. Material had been located in a shed that had the appearance of medical hazmat matter. At first we thought it to be radioactive.”

Moses stated that plans had been made to evacuate the area, but after examination by the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] it was deemed not necessary, “We did not get any unusual readings outside the area. Everything is contained in the shed.”

Bellflower City Manager’s Office put out the following statement, “Representative from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have taken control of the hazardous materials found on the 9600 block of E. Alondra Blvd. in Bellflower, CA. The materials have not yet been identified. Materials stored at the site have been deemed hazardous by the EPA; however, they have declared there is no imminent danger to neighboring residents and businesses. There was no official evacuation.”

Los Angeles Fire Department Station 98 sent out the following tweets: “HAZMAT Incident: 9600 E Alondra Blvd. #Bellflower #FS98 Units on scene reporting unknown liquid with higher than normal radiological reading inside of an outbuilding and lot. @LASDHQ evacuating a nearby trailer park. This is now the #AlondraIC @EPA is also on scene.”

Barrels that contained the radioactive chemical Thorium were being stored in a storage unit. According to authorities, the barrels had been exposed to sunlight while being moved, when one of them ruptured.

After finding the barrels, authorities were going to evacuate the nearby mobile home park but decided there was no risk to the public after assessing the situation. Around 2:30 p.m., Fire Department crews handed the scene over to the EPA which will handle any further cleanup or investigation.

Named for the Norse god of thunder, thorium is a silvery, lustrous and radioactive element with potential as an alternative to uranium in fueling nuclear reactors. Thorium is also used to coat tungsten filaments used in electronic devices, such as television sets. It is a naturally occurring radioactive metal that is found at low levels in soil, rocks, water, plants, and animals, according to the EPA. Thorium is used to make ceramics, lantern mantles, welding rods, camera and telescope lenses, and metals used in the aerospace industry.

As Thorium 232 decays, it releases radiation and forms decay products. This process continues until a stable, nonradioactive decay product is formed. Studies of workers have shown that inhaling thorium dust will cause an increased risk of developing lung disease, including lung cancer, or pancreatic cancer.

The city of Bellflower sent another release out yesterday, Aug. 1: At approximately 3:00 p.m. today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provided an action plan to contain the hazardous materials found on the 9600 block of Alondra Boulevard. EPA Coordinator Robert Wise reaffirmed the danger level is low, however, approximately 15 units within the Aztec Mobile Home Estates adjacent to the site will be temporarily evacuated on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 4:00 p.m. to midnight. The EPA is working to identify the chemicals to ensure proper packaging and disposal occurs. Air monitoring and security will be present until the clean-up is resolved. More details about the incident will be released on Friday, August 3, 2018. The scheduled closure of Alondra Boulevard will be from 4:00 p.m. to midnight from Pacific Ave. to Ryon Ave. For additional inquiries call the Bellflower City Manager’s Office at (562) 804-1424 ext. 2278.