TEST FINDINGS: State Officials Maintain Wildomar Soil Is Safe

Concerns raised by some residents have prompted a second public meeting scheduled Feb. 5 at Wildomar Elementary School.

Residents of the Autumnwood development in Wildomar are not being exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals, state officials maintained Wednesday.

Some residents see it very differently.

Test results from air and soil samples taken from the Autumnwood neighborhood earlier this month by South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) officials were published Wednesday.

“Nothing in these sample results shows the need for additional sampling. Rather, the sample results are consistent with background levels found in the western United States,” said Jim Marxen, spokesman for the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

Autumnwood residents have been leaning on the DTSC to conduct its own testing, claiming SCAQMD methods are not up to EPA standards.

According to Wednesday’s report from SCAQMD (see attached), “all samples were within typical expected ranges for outdoor air, indoor air and soil, with the exception of soil samples collected specifically to evaluate the white material.”

The “white material" on top of the soil was found in a “small portion” of Autumnwood resident Xonia Villanueva's yard, the SCAQMD report stated.

The material contained high levels of various chemicals, including uranium, the report found.

Despite the findings, “The levels seen in these soil samples, while not within typical reported ranges, should not cause health concerns,” the report found.

Villanueva has maintained there are valid health concerns in her neighborhood following illnesses and the deaths of two women there.

“SCAQMD claims that they see nothing unusual in the air samples because they didn’t do the proper testing; we did!” she said.

Residents obtained legal representation and consultants were hired to conduct independent tests.

John Scandura, branch chief for the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, said he has reviewed those independent findings and they don’t raise red flags.

Villanueva wants DTSC to prove its case by conducting its own tests.

“We want the DTSC to stop playing games with innocent men, women, and children’s lives and do their job!” she said.

DTSC claims it is following through. In addition to reviewing SCAQMD results, DTSC also reviewed the construction inspector’s log and the geotechnical reports done for the Autumnwood project, Marxen said.

“Nothing in those documents indicated the soils were contaminated with anything other than common refuse and vegetation. Based on this additional data, we don’t see a potential source of contamination in the soils under or around the homes,” he added.

Villanueva and other Autumnwood residents will get a chance to argue their case during a Feb. 5 public meeting at Wildomar Elementary School.

The 6:30 p.m. meeting in the school’s multi-purpose room is open to all residents. Representatives from SCAQMD, DTSC, County of Riverside Department of Public Health, and the City of Wildomar will be on hand to discuss the latest test results and answer residents’ questions.

The meeting marks the second one in recent months. Click here to read more about the prior meeting.

Amaryllis Court February 01, 2013 at 02:37 PM
To Lake Elsinore Resident. What you say is true and that is exactly what we've done and those tests have found contamination. The DTSC was sleeping on the job or these chemicals wouldn't be there. It is their job to regulate, monitor, and police them. They DO have money, taxpayer money, that should be used to investigate situations such as this. DTSC has the nerve to employ nearly 1000 employees to do what, if not to do what the agency is set up for - toxic substances and control.
Amaryllis Court February 01, 2013 at 02:44 PM
Also the DTSC does have funds, just look at Governor Brown's budget for DTSC. They are not in the red, they have PLENTY of money to address this very type of situation. If we lived in Pacific Palisades they'd be out there in the blink of an eye.
jill smith February 01, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Were there autopsies performed on these women, and if so, what was the cause of death?
Dinorha February 01, 2013 at 11:36 PM
"Xonia Villanueva" is the "Erin Brochovic" in this story.
Fisher Lady February 05, 2013 at 04:32 PM
I can appreciate what Ken is saying, and furthermore, I know the person who opened this big can of worms. She did the same thing where we used to work together, claimed the building was making her sick. 2 residents have already sued the developer and won...according to a prior article. I may have read that in the PE.


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