The crew was diligent in its work boring core samples in the main arroyo of the dump. VA maps of the dump, however, seem to indicate that the men were working outside of the known part of four bordering contamination areas. Even though the phase one tests conducted in 2006 concluded that the so-called “Eastern Arroyo” or wash in the dump emitted high radiation readings, the land itself is the product of 5,000 truckloads of inert fill dirt according to a VA report.
On a nearby hillside in the dump, soldiers’ tombstones protruded in plain view like a ghoulish graveyard. Unwilling to identify themselves or their company, the men referred all questions to the VA. The man in charge of the crew, who gave his name as “Jay,” asked this reporter if I knew of a report of the debris removed from the heart of the dump, quite a distance from where we were standing, that was dug up when excavating for the Barrington Dog Park. I did not have such a report but did tell Jay exactly where the mysterious mounds of debris may have been deposited.
While talking with Jay, a VA man who identified himself as “Mark” arrived and also said I’d need permission to talk to the men. Mark also confirmed that he was at a February 24, 2009 Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspection of the VA and the dump that this reporter overheard and photographed.
I also told Mark that the VA’s Ben Spivey, then chief of occupational health and safety in 2006, had told me about the mound within plain view and that it was the remains of biomedical debris from Brentwood School’s excavation.
Upon leaving the dump, I invited Mark to tell West LA VA honcho Ralph Tillman and his deputy Jim Duvall to give me a call. They have not. Repeated telephone and e-mail requests for comment have gone unanswered. EnviroReporter.com and the LA Weekly would certainly welcome a look at the phase two plans and why they had, so far, seemed to direct Jay’s crew to test in an area far from where the real contamination was.
(Click thumbnail to view entire photograph)