The U. S. Naval artillery test station in Pasadena, California has a long and fascinating history. Decades ago, the facility was acquired by Caltech and used to research jet propulsion in the 1930s.
During the 1940s and 1970s, naval researchers worked on weapons such as torpedoes at the site. In 1978, it was sold by the government and transformed into a self-storage facility. Now, Pasadena Gateway LLC, a subsidiary of Dallas-based real estate developer Trammell Crow, is looking to buy the property and build 550 apartment units along with 9,800 square feet of commercial space. Before any progress can be made, questions need to be answered about what potentially toxic chemicals the Navy may have left behind when it sold the site more than four decades ago.
The Navy originally sold the site “as is” but refuses to say what type of specific activities were carried out or what toxic chemicals may have been used due to its “highly confidential” nature. The transaction has not yet been completed and the property is still owned by Space Bank. The proposed apartment complex would include 46 low-income units and 23 moderate-income units. City Councilman Gene Masuda has reservations about the project due to potential traffic problems.
The developer has worked to mitigate these issues by placing all entrances and exits of the garages directly along North Kinneloa Avenue. Pasadena Heritage agrees with the proposal and has requested conservation measures such as saving and maintaining an enormous cylindrical and monumental test tank on site. The Navy is thought to be the military branch with the highest rate of asbestos use, and asbestos was used on virtually every ship for most of the 20th century. Asbestos was once considered an ideal substance for military assets because it is fireproof, lightweight, inexpensive, and resistant to corrosion.
All branches of the military used asbestos during this time period. As a result, it was used extensively on all ships built starting in the late 1930s. When products containing asbestos are altered, asbestos fibers can be detached and inhaled, becoming lodged in the body over time which can lead to mesothelioma - a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Companies that manufactured and sold products containing asbestos misled the military about its safety in order to maximize profits at the expense of so many United States Navy personnel who had already been exposed.
The City Council will vote on Monday on several actions needed to move the project forward. These include a resolution approving the project's Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment, an amendment to the zoning map, a permit to remove 17 trees along Foothill Boulevard and North Kinneloa Avenue, and a design review. If you worked on any of the warships listed below and were exposed to asbestos, you may be entitled to compensation for your illness. Don't delay calling (800) 647-3434 for a free case review now.