(signs presented by both sides at Saturday’s hearing)
This week a guest blog courtesy of Daniel Sharp, whose riveting presentation at Saturday’s (Nov. 7) AQMD-Rainbow/Republic hearing to determine next steps in the enclosure process is being presented here on Surf City Chronicles with additional context from the author. Methodically and factually, Sharp gathered and processed information and complaints by the OVSD Board and some of the residents in HB and built the models to see if they made sense, or if they were exaggerated. The AQMD panel seemed impressed and requested copies of everything presented. You be the judge.
(The hearing continues this Thursday and updates will be posted here)
Rainbow Environmental Area Impact Overview
Mr. Daniel Sharp
November 7, 2015
Huntington Beach, California, my name is Dan Sharp. I’m a home owner and resident of HB. Recently, I retired Navy Reserves after almost 21 years of service. There I was a Gunner’s Mate in the Navy. It was a great job that was never boring, especially as I became familiar with ballistics, blast patterns, Chemical, Biological, Radiation (CBR) fallout, was a Weapons Instructor, Armorer, Missile Technician, Tactics Instructor, Police Officer, Safety Officer.
After active services, I joined the reserves and also was picked up as a government analyst and have over 10 years’ experience. I’m a Subject Matter Expert on explosives mishaps procedures, familiar with first responder procedures for weapons mishaps/incidents and have become familiar with data gathering, mining and architecture.
I’ve been a volunteer for over 15 years, giving over 250 hours for the City of Huntington Beach each year. Many may know me as your sound engineer and “social media guru” for nearly every Summer Series in the Park concert on Sunday evenings in the summer.
I grew up in this area. My (late) brother and I used to see the trash men come by and pick up the trash cans, tossing the contents into the bucket, and then hop on the bucket and proceed to the next set of cans… we used to think it was so cool to ride the bucket, that initial, I wanted to be a trashman!
OVSD vs Rainbow Disposal
Figure 1- Rainbow Environmental and Oak View areas within city limits
Today, November 7, 2015, we gathered to ensure that the mitigation efforts will be suitable for Rainbows expansion, as the population has definitely increased again, economy is booming, and new construction and projects are increasing. As a result of the expansion, Rainbow will need to expand to meet the demands, and the citizens and school next to it, needs to be protected, from, at the least, the stench.
SO what is the stench? If you listen to the OVSD Board of Trustees, you’d learn the stench, is this 24/7, each day, for 30+ year nightmare for the students, faculty, and local community that has been said to contain toxins, and other nasty stuff that causes students to vomit, noses to bleed, scratchy throats, etc on a DAILY basis at Oak View, Liberty Christian and Ocean View High schools. Some say because of some of the open air operations, that the seagulls literally drop their feces on students daily, and many times, the dust contains carcinogens from all the “concrete crushing”.
Who was there first?
Figure 2- Locations of the impacted stakeholders and approximate dates
So, let’s talk about the area in question. Figure 2- Locations of the impacted stakeholders and approximate dates, is a Google map screen shot of the area. In the blue is Rainbow. In the Gray are OVSD properties (Oak View across from Rainbow and Lake View on the right side).
Gina Clayton-Tarvin, President of the OVSD Board of Trustees said, in April 20, 2015, “Oak View was built in the early 1960s, well before Rainbow opened on Nichols Lane in the early 1980s”. That statement, got me interested in what was happening, because in the early 1980’s, when Warner Ave had a stop sign at Nichols, I used to walk across the street to Rainbow because I wanted to be a trash man so I could ride on those bucket (a thing of the past).
History of the Area
Back to this chart. Rainbow was started with one truck in 1950’s. It eventually had a half a dozen trucks in the mid 1950’s, staged on the Northwest corner of Goldenwest and Warner (Wintersburg). It moved to a small site in 1960, 3 years after the annexation of Wintersburg to the city. A large truck yard and maintenance shop near the McIntosh (Alpha Beta) slaughterhouse and an ice house. The immediate areas around there was all industrial with machine and mechanic shops, and other dirty, blue collard type of jobs, up to Nichols street, which is where Wintersburg mission and farms houses are still to this day. There also were many farms fields throughout that area.
In 1967, OVSD Board built/opened Oak View elementary school at the Nichols Park, across from the industrial zoned area. In the late 1970’s Rainbow took over the public transfer station off of Gothard from the county of Orange, and saved the taxpayers close to 70% of the operating costs. In the early 1980’s, the county wanted to close most of the transfer stations, so Rainbow, (which acquired bad land around them that needed environmental cleanup), moved the transfer station to the present location, and the “dump” opened in 1984.
In 1991, the Oak View Preschool opened up by the OVSD Board. In 2004, the board added portables to the Oak View Title 1 school. In 2008, Rainbow looked at expanding operating, and presented a plan they never executed for various reasons (failed attempts to expand to other areas nationwide and the economy stalled the plan.)
OVSD looked at revitalizing their aging buildings and abate lead, asbestos and mold in 2010/2011, and they decided to ask the taxpayers to fund the project. As a result, Measure P was placed on the ballot, only to fail at the polls. OVSD still had to come up with funding for the projects.
OVSD filed the first of their nuisance suits against Rainbow in December of 2013. After nearly 30 years, they finally decided to do something to protect their employees and students… and all they were asking for at that time is for Rainbow to build them a “covered Lunch area and HEPA filters on their ventilation systems, along with “compensation”.
At that time, Rainbow was trying to recover, and needed help from this employee owned company, and ended up selling to Republic in 2014. Last year, Oak View, Lake View, and Hope View were shut down for asbestos, a very distracting issue that was mismanaged by the board… especially because it should have been addressed way earlier. Now the school had a shortfall of about $13M which varies depending on your source.
Building of a Nuisance
Many times, the open air transfer facility often has a very unpleasant smell… a stench. It varies between time of day, dampness of the air, and the direction and strength of the wind with regards to who and how large of an area is affected.
Here are some models that will help to put things into perspective regarding the odor, based on my personal experience along with knowledge and understanding of fallout and gaseous cloud movements.
Figure 3- Normal/Average Day, a light breeze from west (ocean) to the east
Figure 4 – Stronger breezes means more narrow but increased length of odor
Figure 5 – When winds shift, Santa Ana winds takes over and moves odor away from Oak View
Figure 6 – Wind direction shift to the north
Embellished complaints – “Circle of Stench”
Many OVSD Board trustees have been embellishing complaints from Rainbow since 2013. Many of the older photos have been used, many “sensational” terms and slogans have been used. Are these truly accurate? The following are some that have been recently heard by me:
Figure 7 – “Circle of Stench”
The “brown cloud” covers the area he is talking about. In May 2015, he is even saying the dump is blowing “biolous dust construction concrete dust clouds”, even though Rainbow had stopped doing that in 2011 at the request of Oak View Elementary School board. Any piles they had, were mitigated and taken care of outside of school semesters by 2013. Much of the dust is actually lighter than what blows from the farm land at the Weapons Station across Bolsa Chica, when the farmers are plowing the fields and the source has not been positively identified as coming from Rainbow, other industrial businesses nor dust/dirt from lack of watering of vegetation due to the drought.
Figure 8 – OVSD Trustee John Briscoe posts his description of the stench on Facebook
Figure 9 – OVSD Trustee John Briscoe posts about dust to Huntington Harbour
This is one of John Briscoe’s many rants/posts about the dust reaching all the way to Huntington Harbor. In one of the city council meetings he had said similar including that the “Edison folks are probably ok”… I think he was talking about “Laaaaaazy Riiiviers” that day, talking about all the toxic water coming in and staying stagnate, allowing for mosquitos and other hazards. He made the same claims under oath during the recent AQMD hearing on November 8, 2015. Regarding the “Lazy Rivers”, they are actually, Rainbow’s bioswale that is Surfrider Certified. These Ocean Friendly Gardens help mitigate any hazardous run-off, and in Rainbow’s case, uses 90 large barrels to protect water run-off to our ocean.
Because of the new process, there has not been any “permits” aside from Coastwatcher approval and Surfrider certified, from what I understand. This is Rainbow taking the lead in environmental responsibility.
OVSD Board has claimed many times on all platforms about Rainbow’s “Violations” and their supporters have posted the AQMD violations, commenting on how an ethical company wouldn’t have all these violations. What they aren’t telling the public is that the NOV’s from AQMD that have been issued, has been issued because multiple people call in the complaint, triggering the violation. OVSD has actually created and distributed letters on how to complain, to whom complaints were sent to, and even requested notification of when the complaints were sent in! There are spikes from their workshop and flyer distribution, showing the increased calls. AQMD site warns of people and organizations (such as the OVSD Board and Oak View ComUNIDAD) from filing such complaints, going into their database to collect the NOV information and then using that to coerce action from or file a lawsuit against a business.
Complaint Guides and Workshops by OVSD:
Figure 10 – Various forms given out to residents of Oak View community
Here are photos of various documents distributed throughout Oak View residential neighborhood… also, there were tables set up at the entrance to the school regarding these issues and the November 7th hearings. There were workshops that OVSD Board had set up to tell folks how to complain.
On a Facebook site, a social media user had published these call logs from the AQMD for Rainbow Environmental from 2011-July 2015.
Figure 11 – Call Log for AQMD from 2011 – July 2015
Looking at the call log for Rainbow Environmental that was posted in a Facebook forum, we can correlate the spike in complaint calls to the workshops and times when the material was distributed.
Figure 12 – Timeline of events in relations to AQMD Notice of Violations filed to Rainbow
In the above timeline, Figure 12 – Timeline of events in relations to AQMD Notice of Violations filed to Rainbow, I question that if the OVSD Board had the safety and security of the students and teachers in mind, then why build the preschool closer to the dump in 1991, 7 years after the dump opened? Why increase the student population at Oak View and add portables to house more Title 1 students at Oak View, along the fence line, instead of opening the planned overflow at Park View elementary near Murdy Park? Why continue to subject the student population, when the schools had to close because of the mismanaged asbestos debacle in 2014, doubling the portables on the west side of the property?
Maintenance Yard Claims
Some of the claims from the community and the OVSD Board has been about traffic and loud diesel noises from the trash trucks. Some have voice their concerns about solvents, engine dust and other HAZMAT type hazards associated with engine/maintenance shops, but looking at the map, their bus depot at the old Rancho Wintersburg Elementary (which they shutdown decades ago) is literary next to residents.
Figure 13 – Garbage truck yard environmental impact vs School Bus yard impact
Admittedly, I haven’t not had the chance to learn which specific building are their maintenance bays, so I chose the furthest building with bays, and tried to show the contrast between the school bus yard/shop and Rainbow’s yard/shop. As you can see, the bus yard is up against the residence fence line. Rainbow’s has quite a distance before the residences.
Figure 14 – Google view of the facility
Many of the board has talked about Rainbows Maintenance yard and truck noises, meanwhile, their own bus yard is actually up against residences that are also much closer to the “brake dust”, “solvents”, “noises”, “Beepers”, etc….
Figure 15 – Another Google view of the school bus facility
Often letters being read from residents by Oak View residents and teachers, staff personnel/Spokespersons and/or that which is being spoken about on news, City Council, and District Board meetings often used to speak of such things as scratchy throats, asthma attacks, respiratory illness, nauseous stomachs, 24/7. When looking at research in similar high density low income housing, one learns the same symptoms and issues exists here in the county, state, nation and world. It’s a common problem and one that the World Health Organization has done a report on. (Krieger & Higgins, 2002)
Now, the complaints are even more severe, “daily nose bleeds”, “daily vomiting”, etc… Just WHY would a school board keep these schools open? The board and others say “well, the kids have to live there anyways”… but I think of Lake View, Park View or Westmont would be more of a break. Perhaps a chance to breathe better for a portion of each day during those hours.
“History of Mismanagement”
The history of the OVSD board is certainly not pretty. There are many allegations that most trustees use this as a political launching board, that they or their friends receive contracts, or land, etc…. The board has a history of bullying, just like in 2005, when they wanted to put the Boys and Girls club at Westmont… the district found some residents that were able to make a “grass roots” effort to not put a boys and girls club there, so they wouldn’t have “Thousands of cars in the small neighborhood”… John Briscoe sums up their attitude about their authority: “We are the school board, we can do whatever we want”…
Rainbow Disposal has been an asset for this city. They have picked up the slack where many of our own residents, for whatever the reason, have been careless in the disposal of their garbage, by (for decades) cleaning up alleyways and our streets. They consistently provide refuse containers for various events, large and small, and will gladly help anyone needing services. They do donate money for various causes throughout the city as well as various candidates, many people and businesses do. They do host and partake in various clean up days, including the Oak View neighborhood.
Every company has issues at various times. Rainbow is no exception, and there were poor decisions made in the late 2000’s through the beginning of the 2010’s, which I believe got them into some financial difficulties. They had to sell the employee owned company and many high level personnel were fired, let go, or retired. After they sold to Republic at the end of 2014, they had some restructuring, and refocused on the community. By then, the OVSD Board had enough, and helped to “empower” the resident of Oak View in protest for living in the odorous smell area for 30 years.
Rainbow Disposal has been instrumental in this city, as Ocean View School district. I’ve seen complaints from the school district and citizens. I’ve seen many complaints about OVSD Board in addition to Rainbow. I lived the Rainbow expansions, I’ve understood them, and still smell the odor at times. It’s been something that one gets used to growing up in the area.
It’s hard to understand though, exactly what is permitted at the dump. It’s hard to envision what happens at the dump, which is why setting up a tour is really the proper way to understand more of the problem one is looking at.
One thing is for certain, I go back to my questions: why now, why is the school board taking action over the past almost 2 years? Why are they saying it’s a health issue, and why now are people increasing their symptoms to include bleeding of noses on a daily basis and/or vomiting daily?
Why does the board continue to promote calling up the AQMD to get more violations, for them to turn around and use against Rainbow? Why did the board wait 30 years? Yes, the OVSD Board of Trustees are elected, and there were several Trustees that were not brought back during the last election, but the decisions made the last year, seems more of the same type of decisions that have been made over the past several decades. Perhaps, it would have been better, if there truly was/is a health issue, to move all the portables to Lake View until Rainbow fully enclose, and when it comes to kids, there’s not supposed to be a monetary issue, right? Or is that rule for everyone else and not the school board?
I’ve always known it has been just odor, and after the inspector stated he took air samples on the OVSD Oak View Preschool playground, and reported there was not toxins nor anything different or hazardous then the rest of the district area air, I’m quite comforted this truly is a nuisance issue, which will help to diminish once Rainbow gets the enclosures built.
After the first day of the AQMD hearing and listening to the AQMD hearing board along with Rainbow under oath discussing the project to be completed by the end of 2017, it does appear that Rainbow is enclosing all operations, and only one operation , the self haulers that we residents would use, will be, at the least, 85% enclosed, which should be suitable and meet the needs of both OVSD board, Oak View schools and the Oak View community.