Developer Agrees to Test Contaminated East Pasadena Site for Explosives Chemicals

Opponents claim victory, developer calls move responsive to community concerns

Published : Wednesday, May 1, 2019 | 4:51 AM

At left, Dale Goldsmith of Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac, representing site developer, and developer Trammel Crow Company Senior Managing Director Brad Cox. at right, shown responding during Monday night's City Council meeting to questions from Vice Mayor John Kennedy. Images are screengrabs from KPAS.

Critics of a controversial housing project planned for a former naval test site claimed victory on Tuesday after a senior manager for the developer said the company would request the site be tested for additional toxic chemicals.

Trammell Crow Company Senior Managing Director Brad Cox said the California State Department of Toxic Substances (DTSC) will be asked to including testing of the site for the presence of explosives RDX and TNT in the State’s site remediation workplan.

“We will conduct such testing under the oversight of the DTSC and the City’s third-party expert,” Cox said.

RDX (Royal Demolition Explosive) is an explosive combined with other ingredients to make plastic explosives, including C4. TNT (Trinitrotoluene) is also an explosive.

Critics claim the two chemicals could be present in the soil and groundwater at 3200 E. Foothill Blvd., in East Pasadena where Trammell Crow Company plans to build a four-to-five-story, mixed-use mixed-use project which includes 550 apartments (69 of them affordable housing units), proposed subterranean and above-ground parking structures, landscaping and nearly 10,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space.

Caltech used the site for research into jet propulsion in the 1930s and maintained it during World War II, The U.S. Navy purchased the property from Caltech in 1945 and used it for classified projects and torpedo testing.

Representatives from Trammell Crow say that the weapons were not manufactured at the site. Critics disagree with that claim, and say other weapons could have been manufactured at the site under classified designations.

“Even though it was well known that RDX a neurotoxin, was used in rockets and torpedoes manufactured on the 3200 E. Foothill Blvd site, the Department of Toxic Substances Control failed to require the developer to include it among the Contaminants of Concern (COC) destined for removal,” wrote project opponent Gary Smith in an update to a Change.org online petition called “Stop Toxic Housing in Pasadena.

“This victory took place largely because the city of Pasadena hired an outside consultant, Alta Environmental, to evaluate whether the RAW was adequate to protect the safety of children.”

Trammel Crow’s Cox agreed to request the additional chemicals testing during Monday’s City Council meeting when Dale Goldsmith of Armbruster and Goldsmith & Delvac which represents Trammell Crow Companies told Councilman John Kennedy that he was accepting that responsibility to test for RDX and TNT.

Trammel Crow first publicly said it would request the additional chemicals testing during Monday’s City Council meeting when attorney Dale Goldsmith of Armbruster Goldsmith & Delvac, representing the developer, told Councilmember John Kennedy that the company was accepting responsibility to test for RDX and TNT.

“I’m assuming it will be part of the RAW (Removal Action Workplan) and that that will be an obligation of Trammell Crow Company,” Goldsmith.

But Councilmember Victor Gordo was concerned Goldsmith’s response was based on the State’s requesting the tests.

“He says they’re assuming that it’s going to be in the RAW. But if the representation is that whether or not it’s in the RAW, they’re going to do the testing there … that’s a different issue,” Gordo said.

Kennedy then asked Goldsmith point blank if testing would “absolutely be done.”

“You’re 100 percent correct [Councilman.] We will be testing for the chemicals as requested,” Goldsmith said.

Recent environmental tests reportedly indicate the presence of “hazardous materials in the soil and soil vapor, and potentially in groundwater beneath the property.”

Cox told Pasadena Now that Trammel Crow does not believe it likely that either RDX or TNT were used at the site.

Nonethless, “the decision to test for RDX and TNT was in response to the community concerns expressed in written correspondence to the City and the follow-up request of Councilman Gordo [Monday] night,” Cox said.

He said that Trammell Crow will ask the State for a clean-up plan in the “unlikely event” that the two chemicals are discovered at the site.