Ascon Landfill Information

ascon aerial photo

In recent weeks, Huntington Beach residents have expressed significant concerns about the clean-up efforts going on at the long-closed Ascon Landfill site at the SW corner of Magnolia and Hamilton. Even though the City is not regulating this clean-up effort, many residents have attended Council meetings and other meetings, have asked questions and expressed concerns on social media, and have sought more information about community safety.

We at the City of Huntington Beach are concerned, too. The site needs to be cleaned, but cleaned in a manner that protects our residents and the many school children, parents, and teachers at neighborhood schools. More needs to be done by DTSC and the Ascon operators to assure us that the site clean-up activities are safe for all of us.

This section of our web page is intended to help our residents become more familiar with the site, the clean-up activities, the agencies that are overseeing the clean-up, and what residents can do to share information, ask questions, and express any concerns.

The Site and the Clean-Up Effort. According to the clean-up EIR, the Ascon Landfill was an active landfill operated between 1938 and 1984. Industrial and oil field wastes were disposed at the landfill from 1938 to 1971. After 1971, construction debris was disposed at the Site until it was closed in 1984. The Site contains various types of liquid and solid waste in buried pits, surface piles of concrete, rebar and other construction debris, and fenced, open lagoons (ponds).

The Site has undergone several changes of ownership and environmental investigations since 1984. In 2003, DTSC and some of the Ascon Landfill Site Responsible Parties (RPs) entered into a Consent Order with the State of California for the Site’s cleanup. Preliminary remediation work began in July 2017, and has continued with full-scale remediation starting earlier in 2019.

The Agency Overseeing the Clean-Up. Site cleanup is directed by the State of California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which is a department within the California Environmental Protection Agency or Cal-EPA. DTSC has oversight over the final cleanup, including monitoring the work and mitigation measures, and providing community information. The City of Huntington Beach is not overseeing the clean-up, nor are we issuing permits for it.

Our Concerns, Community Concerns. The City has been concerned about the full-scale remediation, especially after hearing from area residents about dust and odors from the activities. As those concerns started coming in to us, we asked to work with DTSC, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and others on this important issue. Our concerns included:

  • Clean-up should not result in dust or other materials leaving the site.
  • Air quality should be regularly monitored, and reported to the public. In “real time” if at all possible.
  • Clean-up areas should be tented or otherwise confined if at all possible.
  • There should be a 3rd party technical advisor, not tied to Ascon, that provides all of us with good analyses and easy to understand information about data.
  • Area residents, the City, HBUSD officials, teachers, parents, and students should all be made aware of any air quality or other information at the same time that DTSC or others receive it.
  • We all must be kept apprised of site activities and progress towards remediation.
  • Acknowledging all of the above, the clean-up needs to progress. This material needs to be appropriately remediated for the long-term safety of our community.

How can I find out more? General project information can be found at www.AsconHB.com and at www.Envirostor.dtsc.ca.gov. We encourage you to contact them directly at Xihong.Zhai@dtsc.ca.gov and tzeier@projectnavigator.com.

The  Ascon remediation group will work with DTSC, the City of Huntington Beach, South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) and the Huntington Beach Unified High School District (HBUHSD) regarding actions directed by DTSC, which include:

  • Construction during the shutdown of the taller barrier fence along Magnolia and Hamilton streets.
  • Establishment of a third-party technical advisor, under the management of the City of Huntington Beach.
  • Investigation of the feasibility of additional tenting or enclosure in excavation areas that have potential to produce more odors.
  • Cover or solidify impacted soil in excavation areas, in addition to mitigation measures already conducted.
  • Monitoring of additional heavy metals, in addition to metals currently included in the monitoring program.
  • Additional offsite air quality monitoring (including dust), in the neighborhood and at nearby schools, and a review of air quality monitoring validation methodologies which confirm monitoring data.
  • Analysis of onsite concrete to to analyze potential asbestos.
  • A complaint and response protocol, to formalize DTSC and project team actions already implemented in response to community concerns.
  • Hold a community meeting prior to work restarting.

What’s the latest information? Currently, the clean-up effort is stopped, as DTSC works with the Responsible Parties (RP) on a checklist of items that DTSC believes need to occur before clean-up can start again. A June 12, 2019 letter that DTSC sent to the RP is here. Please take a look at it, including the last page. As you can see from the letter, DTSC is recommending looking at a tenting system, increasing the height of the fencing, coverage of soil, additional air quality monitoring, and more. The remediation is not to start up again until DTSC has signed off on these “health and safety enhancements." This could be 30 days or more. DTSC recently stated that "monitoring has not found any chemicals in the air above a level that causes public health concern." The enhanced mitigation actions being implemented are designed to address odor concerns and to help answer questions from the community about the final cleanup.

What if I have questions? A 24-hour NON-EMERGENCY public hotline has been established by the Ascon Landfill Site project team to ensure questions or concerns can be answered promptly. DTSC receives documentation of the calls made to the project hotline. The Ascon Landfill Site hotline number is 714-388-1825.


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Contact Information

Xihong.Zhai@dtsc.ca.gov
zeier@projectnavigator.com

A 24-hour NON-EMERGENCY public hotline has been established by the Ascon Landfill Site project team to ensure questions or concerns can be answered promptly. DTSC receives documentation of the calls made to the project hotline. The Ascon Landfill Site hotline number is 714-388-1825.

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