Plans to construct a 16-foot barrier-fence around parts of the former Ascon Landfill site in Huntington Beach start this week, although the project intended to clean 46 years of oil waste and debris from the location remains at a standstill.
The fence is intended to shield surrounding residential areas from any debris or dust that might be blown from the site during the project’s excavation phase, which has yet to start, according to interim Huntington Beach City Manager Dave Kiff. Kiff spoke to the council about safety updates to the landfill site during Monday’s city council meeting, also saying the public will know in a couple of weeks when remediation to the site will start again. Construction for the fence will take from late July to late August.
Huntington Beach residents have complained about the site and the environmental risks it might pose to the surrounding community and Edison High School, which is across the street from the landfill.
“This history of that toxic landfill is atrocious. What has happened there is affecting the health of all residents,” Jami Marseilles, a Huntington Beach resident, told the council during its July 1 meeting. “I should not worry about the air my children have to breathe because they go to Edison High School.”
The cleanup project is overseen by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and was temporarily shut down in June. On June 13 the project team announced on its website that all cleanup operations would continue to be paused while new safety measures were established. The barrier-fence, which will flank Magnolia Street and Hamilton Avenue, is one of them.
The Ascon Landfill operated from 1938-1984 and served as a location for industrial oil field waste and, in its later years, construction debris. According to Ascon’s website, the cleanup project began in 2003 and is not funded by the city of Huntington Beach.
Kiff said other enhanced measures include increased monitoring of air quality at Edison High School, Edison Park and Eader Elementary School, all of which have been subject to resident concerns. The DTSC and Ascon said they will also look into tenting off the excavation area to trap potentially harmful chemicals once the cleanup starts again.
In the meantime, Huntington Beach Councilwoman Lyn Semeta told the small crowd at Monday’s meeting that the Ascon Landfill cleanup would be a standing topic on the Huntington Beach council agendas.
“We’ve heard the community loud and clear,” Semeta said. “We will have an update by the city manager on what is going on with Ascon…This will be a regular part of our meetings while this project goes on.”
Miranda Andrade is a Voice of OC reporting intern and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.