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Local Base Cleaning Contaminated Soil with Low-Polluting Equipment

Camp Pendleton is cleaning up contaminated soil from the base with lower-polluting construction equipment. The goal is to do the cleanup work without fouling the air. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Jo

Local Base Cleaning Contaminated Soil with Low-Polluting Equipment

Camp Pendleton is cleaning up contaminated soil from the base with lower-polluting construction equipment. The goal is to do the cleanup work without fouling the air. KPBS Environmental Reporter Ed Joyce explains.

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The EPA says there are 105 Superfund sites in California, including one at Camp Pendleton. The base was added to the Superfund list in 1989 because pesticides were found in well water. The EPA's Elizabeth Adams says most construction machinery is powered by highly polluting diesel fuel that's linked to health problems. But Camp Pendleton officials are using cleaner diesel fuels and alternatives to remove polluted soil without adding more pollution .

Adams: This is a military facility. It's the first one in California doing that, so we're hoping that this catches on. And as more equipment and construction equipment is retrofit it means that it will be available for use at different sites. And so that is good because each time it's used they'll be fewer particulates put into the air.

She says construction equipment accounts for 30 percent of all diesel emissions in California. Christina Ferrari is in charge of making sure Camp Pendleton complies with air quality standards. She says using cleaner equipment benefits everyone.

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Ferrari: We are cleaning up the existing site but in the process we're actually making the process of cleaning up the site a lot cleaner. There's not as much pollution going into the air.

Camp Pendleton volunteered for the pilot program and the Navy is overseeing the use of the green construction equipment. The EPA hopes the project will spur similar use throughout the country.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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