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Toxin tests set for lagoon

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

A new battery of tests should take place soon as park officials try to locate the source of contamination at the Lagoon Creek Day Use Area, officials said yesterday.

The popular fishing area in Klamath was closed to the public on April 3, when dioxins, PCP and TCP, chemicals dangerous to humans, were found in the area of the lagoon.

"We did a fast track through our system to get the money to do the testing," said Chief Ranger Scott Wanek of the Redwood National and State Park Service. "The funds just came through a day or two ago. We're hoping to maybe have a contractor by next week."

Wanek said a much broader sampling is needed of the area to determine the extent of the contamination.

"What has been done so far is limited in scope and scale," he said. "Once we get a better idea from the sampling, we'd like to start opening up as much of the site as possible ¬ó say, the parking lot and the restrooms."

Wanek said two of the chemicals found at the site, PCP and TCP, are water-soluble agents that would not ordinarily settle into the lagoon's sediment, which is where the dioxins were found. All three chemicals are often found in wood-treatment products that were used at mills in Del Norte County.

"It's possible they came from water-saturated soil in the area," he said. "The history of the mills in the area leads us to believe they are associated with that, but someone could have dumped something in there recently. We just don't know at this point."

Superintendent Andy Ringgold said earlier this month the lagoon closure will continue until further notice. The parking lot has been barricaded and no-entry signs have been posted.

Although fish from the pond have not been tested yet, Ringgold said any stored fish caught in the pond should be discarded.

Technicians testing soil at the McNamara & Peepe property in Crescent City had gone to Lagoon Creek in March for comparison samples because a similar mill was reported to have operated in the area.

The sample taken from sediment in the lagoon contained more contaminants than the sample taken from the site in Crescent City.

The Crescent City mill site is currently under a cleanup and abatement order from the Regional Water Quality Control Board and is being considered as a location for a future wastewater-treatment plant by the city.

The lagoon area has been part of the parks department since 1968.


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