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Edison High will go ahead with summer school, saying campus air quality is safe despite worries about former landfill nearby

file photo
Edison High School Principal Jennifer Graves notified parents Sunday that independent air-quality tests showed that the air on campus is safe despite concerns from parents about a controversial cleanup of the former Ascon landfill across from the school.
(File Photo)

Edison High School says summer school classes and activities will proceed as planned after independent air-quality testing showed that the air on campus is safe despite concerns from parents about dust and odors from the former Ascon landfill across the street.

The Huntington Beach Union High School District received findings that the environmental data collected during field investigations at Edison High were well within safety standards set by the California Air Resources Board and the American Industrial Hygiene Assn., according to district spokeswoman Cheryl McKenzie.

“We will continue monitoring in addition to working with the city, state Legislature, [South Coast] Air Quality Management District and [California] Department of Toxic Substances Control to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff,” McKenzie said in a statement Tuesday.

She did not say who did the air-quality testing or disclose details of the findings.

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Principal Jennifer Graves notified parents Sunday through automated calls, according to the district.

Graves did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Complaints about a final cleanup at the 38-acre former landfill at Hamilton Avenue and Magnolia Street have ballooned since April because of dust and odors. AQMD officials have said the agency has received about 150 complaints and issued some notices of violation.

The cleanup at the site — which served as a waste disposal facility from about 1938 to 1984 — is expected to continue through 2020.

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Ascon spokeswoman Mary Urashima said Tuesday that the company informed city and school officials that it would shut down work on the site until the end of the school year and construct a taller fence even before the city’s second community meeting with state officials and project employees on June 6.

The temporary halt came weeks after several southeast Huntington Beach residents lambasted officials at a May 15 meeting, arguing that the cleanup has caused residents to suffer respiratory problems because of the dust and odors.

State officials have tried to assure residents that the project has not posed any significant public health risks, according to data gathered so far. Urashima has said the site is in compliance with safety standards and that the air quality is monitored throughout the day. Additional measures — such as nontoxic, biodegradable foam — are used to suppress temporary odors, she said.

During the second community meeting, Department of Toxic Substances Control officials announced the decision to suspend the cleanup until 10 safety enhancements were implemented.

“DTSC takes concerns voiced by people in the community seriously and responds as necessary to ensure the protection of public health and the environment,” according to a department letter dated June 12 and addressed to Project Navigator, the environmental consultant monitoring the daily activities onsite.

Enhancements include expanding the range of offsite air monitoring, hiring a technical advisor to work with the community and help improve communications with the public and possible tenting to control odors. Another public meeting will be held before work resumes.

The Ascon team supports “actions that maintain a safe environmental cleanup and ... help the public better understand the work being conducted,” according to a June 13 post on its website.

To receive updates about the site, visit asconhb.com/wordpress.

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To report concerns, call the cleanup project’s 24-hour public hotline at (714) 388-1825.

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