Montgomery looking into group's Walmart North Auburn site concerns

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - With the state asking Wal-Mart to do soil sampling for cancer-causing dioxins at its North Auburn site and a community group calling for new environmental studies, Placer County Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery is taking a closer look. Montgomery, District 5 supervisor, has responded to concerns by the Alliance for the Protection of the Auburn Community Environment (APACE) by checking with county and private-sector specialists. ?I have asked our county counsel and the Community Development Resource Agency to review the state requirement,? Montgomery stated in a response to the APACE request to reopen the Wal-Mart site?s environmental review process. Montgomery added in an email to APACE that she is asking whether or not the state request would trigger a revision or recirculation of the Environmental Impact Report. Montgomery said she is also asking a friend who is a California Environmental Quality Act specialist whether a revision is in order. The state Department of Toxic Substance Control is requesting that Wal-Mart conduct soil tests for dioxins at its store site, on 18.6 acres formerly occupied by a lumber mill. The request comes more than 18 months after the project was given environmental clearances by the Board of Supervisors. APACE is now challenging approval of environmental documentation in court. Dioxins are a class of potentially carcinogenic contaminants formed during combustion processes, including incineration. In a letter to the Wal-mart Real Estate Business Trust in Bentonville, Ark., Project Manager Jerry Lile of the department?s San Joaquin and Legacy Landfills Office, stated that historical photos showing a teepee burner on the mill site indicate incomplete burning may have resulted in dioxins being released and deposited on the site. The property, located off of Highway 49 and north of Luther Road, is the site of a 155,000 square-foot Wal-Mart store. Design approval was given by Placer County planning staff in December. Lari Knedel, a nearby resident and APACE member, said the group worked with its attorneys and the state Department of Toxic Substance Control over 1 years to overturn what had been an earlier decision in 2007 stating that no further action was required on the site. ?APACE?s position is that Placer County did not do its job,? Knedel said. Their concerns revolve around whether the previous owner ? Bohemia Properties of Roseville ? actually did the cleanup that it claimed, Knedel said.