Preliminary cleanup plan for former Ascon landfill in Orange County is approved

Kelsen, Don –– – Cleanup is underway at the 38–acre Ascon Landfill in Huntington Beach near Magnolia
Cleanup is underway at the 38-acre Ascon landfill, shown in 2005, in Huntington Beach near Magnolia Street and Hamilton Avenue, just a half a mile from the beach.
(Los Angeles Times)

A preliminary step toward the final cleanup of the long-defunct Ascon landfill in Huntington Beach can begin after the city zoning administrator approved the plan this week.

Owner Cannery Hamilton Properties was requesting a development permit for abandonment of two oil wells beneath one of the five lagoons on the 38-acre site on the southwest corner of Magnolia Street and Hamilton Avenue.

Zoning administrator Ricky Ramos approved a host of actions for the abandonment, which includes solidifying the lagoon with 4,000 tons of concrete.

The Ascon landfill operated from 1938 to 1984, according to the city.


The final cleanup will come in 2018, but the oil well abandonment is needed before that, said Mary Urashima, who helps with public information on the project.

A large portion of the waste stored at the site came from oil drilling until 1971, when the landfill became a depository for construction debris, according to the Ascon landfill’s website.

In 2003, the state demanded cleanup of the site’s five waste-filled lagoons and six oil wells.

About 160,000 tons of material have been removed during the last decade, said project coordinator Tamara Zeier.


The site — bordered by homes, Edison Park and Edison High School — has raised health concerns among some residents.

A few attended Wednesday’s zoning administrator meeting to voice concerns with the cleanup process.

Resident Richard Miller said he was concerned that toxins could spread to the water table when the company excavates during the well abandonment.

“I don’t know what’s inside there,” Miller said. “It shouldn’t be touched.”

Zeier said there would be minimal excavation.

Urashima said that there aren’t drinking water wells in the area, and that the company is monitoring the groundwater.

Resident Richard Smith said he was concerned that the area might be developed after it is cleaned up. He said he hopes the site could be preserved as open space.

Urashima said that although the land was zoned residential in 1992, there are no development plans.


Zeier said the work is expected to start in July. The solidification will take about two months and the well abandonment process about three months.


Brazil writes for Times Community News.

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