After 6 hours, AQMD hearing on Rainbow’s H.B. waste facility will continue Thursday
Huntington Beach residents will have to wait until Thursday to see whether a hearing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District will impose changes on Rainbow Environmental Services’ local waste management facility after a public hearing Saturday didn’t settle the matter.
More than 35 speakers testified during the six-hour meeting at the Oak View Community Center in Huntington Beach, including teachers from Oak View Elementary School, which neighbors the trash operation, and state Assemblyman Matthew Harper (R-Huntington Beach).
Lengthy questioning of an AQMD employee contributed to the meeting being continued to Thursday, when the board will reconvene at 9 a.m. at the agency’s headquarters in Diamond Bar.
The five-member independent panel held the hearing on whether stricter regulations should be imposed on Rainbow regarding dust and odors from the facility on Nichols Lane near Warner Avenue. More than a hundred residents, teachers and Rainbow employees attended.
The proposed changes were a collaboration between Rainbow and AQMD. The hearing board’s duty was to determine whether the changes are justified.
The Rainbow operation is in the Oak View neighborhood, a low-income, largely Latino area.
The biggest proposed change is fully enclosing the areas of the facility where the business sorts solid waste, recyclables and green waste. Under AQMD rules, green waste processes do not need to be enclosed. However, Rainbow has agreed to have such operations in a fully enclosed facility and has said it plans to do so by December 2017.
A controversial change would partially enclose the area where construction and demolition debris is handled. That also is not currently required. The change calls for the activity to be conducted in a building with no more than a 15% opening. Many residents have called for that operation to be fully enclosed.
“That is the most dangerous part of the facility and it needs to be fully enclosed and not partially enclosed,” said Victor Valladares, an Oak View resident and co-founder of the Oak View Comunidad Facebook group.
Valladares showed the hearing board a video he took of a car covered in dust that he claimed came from Rainbow’s facility.
Min Sue, an AQMD inspector assigned to monitoring Rainbow, said he filed many of the 13 notices of violation that the waste facility has received since 2013. Most of the notices involved odors and dust, while one was in regard to the operations not being enclosed according to the agency’s standards.
To further address the dust, Rainbow would not crush concrete or asphalt at the facility. Rainbow claims it has not crushed concrete there since 2011.
Many Oak View Elementary teachers said they have been frustrated with dust and foul odors emanating from the Rainbow operation.
“I am appalled that the Rainbow transfer station has been able to operate and to increase its operations for so many years across the street from the school and cause such a nuisance to our community and especially the students that attend this school,” said Ocean View School District Supt. Carol Hansen.
Rainbow also would be barred from receiving loads of trash from supermarkets that contain animal trimmings that are particularly odorous.
Additional changes would restrict Rainbow to receiving no more than 2,800 tons of waste per day and no more than 2,000 tons of solid waste per day.
Currently, Rainbow is permitted to receive up to 4,000 tons of waste per day. In 2014, it averaged 1,683 tons per day, according to AQMD staff.