State cleaning landfill lagoons

Residents near the Ascon Landfill Site should expect increases in traffic, noise and possibly unpleasant smells as officials begin removing pollutants from the site Monday.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control is overseeing the cleanup and will begin taking out and disposing of tarry oil production materials from two of the 38-acre landfill's interior lagoons in the southwest section of the site.

Activity will start with equipment being accumulated on the site, but the actual removal project is expected to begin July 12, said Sandra Friedman, spokeswoman for the Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The landfill is on the southwest corner of Magnolia Street and Hamilton Avenue and was the dumping ground for industrial and oil field waste and construction debris from 1938 to 1984.

The site has five, 12-to-17-foot-deep lagoons filled with construction and hazardous waste. Materials will be removed from Lagoons 1 and 2 at depths estimated up to 15 feet to find out exactly what is in them, said project manager Safouh Sayed.

The more information collected on what is inside the lagoons, the better the final removal measure can be tailored to the site's needs, Sayed said.

Officials don't know exactly what is inside the lagoons, but expect to find tarry oil production materials, metals, lead, chromium, sulfuric acid and arsenic, Sayed said.

Although they will recover these containments and materials and move them to a different landfill, "There's no immediate danger to any residents that do not live on the site," Sayed said.

Sayed and other engineers are expected to be on hand every day to oversee the project and inspect and decontaminate the trucks.

There is also a 24-hour hotline set up if residents have concerns or smell anything odd, but Friedman said just because residents smell something unusual doesn't mean there's danger.

The removal is part of field work activities for the Interim Removal Measure and is expected to continue through the first quarter of 2011. Once the initial removal is completed, the department will finalize its environmental impact report to begin the final removal measure.

The proposed final cleanup will remove the majority of the waste and then cap off the site with concrete, asphalt or a similar substance to stop rain water from getting in and air from escaping.

As many as 70 trucks a day will begin coming through the area between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday starting in mid-July for about four months. The majority of the trucks will be gone by 1:30 p.m.

The trucks will enter on Hamilton and exit on Magnolia. The trucks are expected to travel a half mile along Magnolia to Pacific Coast Highway to Beach Boulevard and onto the San Diego (405) Freeway.

It is expected to take about 5,000 trips to complete the removal.

The site will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

The waste will be taken to the Buttonwillow Landfill, which is in Kern County near Bakersfield.

Anyone with questions or concerns should call a 24-hour hotline for the project at (714) 388-1833. For more information on the Ascon Landfill Site clean-up, visit

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