Printer Friendly

Remediation of California landfill to begin this month.

Cleanup of 100,000 tons of toxic materials will start this month as state officials look to remove material from a 70-year-old inactive landfill in Huntington Beach, CA that houses tar-like bogs of hazardous waste. Some residents fear the site may pose serious health issues.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control is overseeing the work expected to start July 12 to clear two of five "lagoons" from a landfill that served as a deposit site for construction and oil production materials for decades.

Cleanup is expected to last about six months, said DTSC engineer Safouh Sayed.

The 38-acre Ascon landfill at Magnolia Street and Hamilton Avenue served as a waste disposal facility from 1938 to 1984. Most of the waste at the landfill in the early years came from oil fields and after 1971 materials including concrete, metal and wood from construction sites were junked at the facility.

The "lagoons" have swallowed thousands of tons of these by-products over the decades to create a thick, black sludge that some have described as the city's own tar pits.

The DTSC reported there are no immediate health risks but because of chemicals in the landfill, such as arsenic and sulfuric acid, the site needs to be cleaned to prevent any long-terms risks, such as the contamination of the ground water supply.

"We are taking all the safety measures and mitigation measures in order to remove it in a safe way," Sayed said. "This is our main concern; to protect the environment and public health."

Property owner Cannery Hamilton Properties, which includes Chevron and Conoco Phillips, are expected to pay between $46 million and $81 million to clean the site. No public money will be used for the cleanup, officials said.

When the DTSC announced in October it would be moving forward with the cleanup, some residents protested, saying they wanted more studies done because they were concerned about the health affects associated with moving the toxic materials, which include styrene, chromium and lead, among others.

Residents have complained in the past that the site has induced nausea, headaches and respiratory problems and some have been fighting for more than a decade to seek relief.

Other residents say they believe toxins at the landfill, such as benzene, have more serious side effects.

"There's an inordinate amount of diseases and cancer on my street,'' said resident Carolyn Crockett."The guy across the street died of brain cancer. I was diagnosed with cancer and a lady across the street had cancer.

"The lady next door died of respiratory disease and my 63-year-old roommate died of autoimmune disease,'' she said."Who knows what happened to the neighbors who moved out?"

However a study conducted by Dr. Thomas Taylor of the University of California, Irvine (UCI) showed the community hasn't seen an excess of cancer cases than what would normally be present. Taylor conducted the 2006 study after some residents said they were concerned cancer rates seemed to be increasing.

DTSC officials say the cleanup will be safe and well-monitored.

"The alternative is to leave a toxic waste landfill there in the middle of their community for an indefinite amount of time and that's not what we want to do," said DTSC supervising scientist Greg Holmes.

The waste will be decontaminated and secured into trucks, which will then be brushed to remove any residue. The DTSC has also helped implement a traffic plan approved by the city for the trucks to take the waste to Buttonwillow landfill in Central California, the agency reported.

There will be up to 70 trucks a day hauling tons of material from the Ascon site. Residents can expect some odor and dust emanating from the landfill but DTSC officials said these are not health hazards and they will be monitoring the air quality and can use suppressants, if needed.

After these two areas are cleared, Sayed said DTSC will conduct an environmental study for plans to clean up the remainder of the Ascon site.

"EPA plans to bring forth additional enforcement action in the future in order to recover its outstanding costs in responding to the threats at the site." During the cleanup, contractors removed about 800,000 gallons of liquid waste and 1,100 tons of solid waste.
COPYRIGHT 2010 Jade Media Partners
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2010 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Hazardous Waste Superfund Alert
Date:Jul 6, 2010
Previous Article:Appeals court denies GE's challenge to Superfund law.
Next Article:South Carolina auditors cite lack of public involvement in hazwaste cleanup plans.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2018 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters