After over two years of debate, not much has changed with the controversial asphalt factory sitting near homes on the northern edge of Irvine.
Residents along the northern edge of Irvine have complained about the All American Asphalt plant for years, pushing for city leaders and state regulators to shut down the facility because it continues to release chemicals so close to homes.
In the past two months, the facility has received three different odor violations from the South Coast Air Quality Management District for “discharging such quantities of air contaminants which cause nuisance to a considerable number of persons.”
While the city sued the plant back in July 2020, there’s been little to no progress on the suit, with most of the council’s discussion on the matter happening behind closed doors over the last two and a half years.
Last October, council members discussed settling the suit against the factory in exchange for helping pay for the factory’s relocation, but that plan was ultimately rejected by the city council, who asked staff to come back with a new plan.
In an interview with Voice of OC, City Manager Oliver Chi confirmed city staff are actively working toward a solution, and said an announcement would be coming in the “near future.”
“We do feel we’re making progress,” Chi said. “The objectives have been consistent from the start, to mitigate and/or eliminate the impacts of All American Asphalt.”
Residents who live near the plant have grown impatient over the past several years, and after conducting their own study with the assistance of UC Irvine staff in 2020, they brought in Argos Scientific, a company that develops air monitoring systems, to survey the air.
Don Gamiles, Argos’ CEO, said that while their study can’t confirm whether the amounts of chemicals in the air could be harmful, there were spikes of chemicals in the neighborhoods around the factory at least once a week.
“There was a correlation between us detecting gasses associated with the asphalt plant and people making community complaints as well as the air district coming out and validating odor complaints that were attributed to the plant,” Gamiles said in an interview. “It actually became very predictive, you’d see these spikes, then the complaints and it all fit together.”
He added that while the air sampling was only done at three locations in the homes surrounding the factory, there weren’t other potential sources nearby that could’ve led to those spikes.
Gamiles said they turned the information they found over to the South Coast Air Quality Management District and are waiting to hear back on what the next steps could be.
Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at email@example.com or on Twitter @NBiesiada.