Ocean View suing Rainbow waste management

The Ocean View School District has filed a lawsuit alleging that a Huntington Beach waste-management facility is a threat to the health of low-income schoolchildren across the street.

The claim, filed Dec. 10 in Orange County Superior Court, accuses Rainbow Environmental Services of negligence, improperly maintaining its operation in the Oak View neighborhood, causing a public and private nuisance and conducting "ultra-hazardous" activities that make children ill.

Ocean View has long complained about what it describes as nauseating odors emanating from Rainbow's 17.6-acre site at Warner Avenue and Nichols Lane near Oak View Elementary School and Oak View Preschool, as well as waste from seagulls attracted to the trash. But now the school district is also complaining about the dust traveling from a large concrete pile at the site and settling at the schools — both located along Nichols — and in the neighborhood.

School district attorney Edmond Connor wrote in his complaint that the dust blowing from the 30- to 40-feet-tall pile "has become so bad that a thin film of such dust regularly coats the lunch tables" at Oak View Elementary and needs to be cleaned off every day.

He added that school nurses have noted an increasing number of student complaints of "allergies, asthma, colds, sore throats, coughs, headaches, nausea and stomachaches" since Rainbow began crushing concrete in 2009.

Rainbow officials declined to comment on the allegations in the lawsuit.

In its complaint, the district demands that Rainbow fully enclose its operations, cover its dust pile and effectively address the sea gull problem.

Ocean View is also seeking unspecified compensatory damages.

The Independent reported in October that Rainbow had stopped its concrete-crushing operations since it received a complaint that month. Rainbow said at the time that the company had started watering down the dust pile and employing a falconer to alleviate problems with the seagulls.

Connor wrote in the complaint that such mitigation efforts have not helped the situation and that the district is looking for a more-permanent solution.

South Coast Air Quality Management District spokesman Sam Atwood said the agency has received 73 complaints since 2008, mainly about the odors but two related to the dust.

Ocean View is also challenging City Council approval of a much-debated environmental impact report allowing Rainbow to demolish the buildings on the Wintersburg site, which the company owns. The district fears an expansion of the company's waste management operations, which could effect the Oak View neighborhood.

Council members have started the process to rezone the 4.4-acre site, home to the first Japanese Presbyterian church in Orange County. Plans are in the works to change the zoning of the site from residential to a mix of commercial and industrial.

As a result, Ocean View filed a legal petition Dec. 10 asking the city to set aside the report, which it and city officials characterized as flawed.

The district is also asking Huntington Beach to suspend any plans for rezoning or demolishing the Wintersburg site until the report is determined to be in compliance with California Environmental Quality Act guidelines.

City Atty. Jennifer McGrath declined to comment on the petition.

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