HUNTINGTON BEACH : OK to Recycle Sand Comes Too Late

A demolition company's plan to process into asphalt as much as 3,000 tons of sand contaminated by the Feb. 7 oil spill apparently has failed, officials said.

Pomona Valley Equipment Demolition and Site Clearance had planned to combine the oil-stained sand with crushed concrete from an abandoned Huntington Beach mushroom farm to produce asphalt. The city has hired the company to demolish the farm.

In addition to providing Pomona Valley Equipment with a substitute for the liquid petroleum product typically used in processing asphalt, British Petroleum could have avoided hauling dozens of truckloads of sand to a Bakersfield hazardous waste dump.

However, the city and the two firms had to get permission from various environmental agencies and arrange insurance liability, Deputy City Administrator Richard Barnard said. And by the time that was accomplished, the sand already had been removed.

The two firms signed their original agreement on Feb. 23, but the demolition company did not receive its last required permit until Thursday, British Petroleum spokesman Tony Koslowski said. By then, "we didn't have any (stained) sand left," he said.

"The idea and the concept were very good," Barnard said. "It's just that the timing didn't work out."

Barnard said it "obviously has cost BP more money to truck all this sand to Bakersfield, but if it waited, then it would have been criticized for just waiting around. So they decided to continue the mission of cleaning up the beaches. And I think it was a good decision."

Officials for the demolition company, meanwhile, say they remain optimistic about eventually obtaining some oil-covered sand. British Petroleum "says the beach is clean . . . but we're not entirely sure," said Lowell Preston, Pomona Valley's environmental manager. "If any more sand does come off of there, it will come here."

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