Environmental board recommends “dig and haul” for Bridgeport ARCO

Bridgeport residents picket the Seal Beach ARCO station. Photo by Mike Beckage (who participated in the protest).

The Seal Beach Environmental Quality Control Board prefers the “dig and haul” option for decontaminating the Bridgeport ARCO site.

Senior Planner Jerry Olivera said that was the consensus the board reached at the agency’s Wednesday, June 30 meeting, following a review of the revised corrective action plan for the site.

“Dig and haul” is a popular term of excavation of contaminated soil and ground water in the area near the ARCO gas station on Pacific Coast Highway.

The public has until July 23 to comment on the revised CAP for the Bridgeport site.

Olivera said the environmental board members also wanted the decontamination work to go beyond the predetermined area defined in the corrective action plan by ARCO/BP America’s consultant. Director of Development Serivces Mark Persico said the board wanted the clean up efforts to follow the actual contamination rather than the predetermined area outlineed in the plan.

According to City Manager David Carmany, the environmental board wants the excavation to go as deep and as wide as necessary.

In an e-mail to the Sun, Carmany put the potential depth of excavation at 12 feet and said the digging could go “past the block wall, into the alley and also onto the liquor store strip mall site.”

Carmany pointed out that the alley next to the gas station is part of the strip mall.

The first draft of the Bridgeport corrective action plan recommended using chemicals to breakdown toxic contaminants in the area near the gas station, an area that includes approximately 25 Bridgeport residences.

The process was called chemical oxidation.

When the draft came before the Seal Beach Environmental Quality Control Board, the board members voted to support chemical oxidation, based largely on the arguments against “dig and haul” that were spelled out in the plan.

However, Mario Voce, a member of the EQCB, later told the City Council that the board would have supported “dig and haul” if the board had received input from the Bridgeport Technical Advisory Committee. The new, revised CAP recommended using heat to break down contaminants in a process called electrical resistance heating.

However, an ARCO representative said the company was willing to excavate the site in a cover letter that accompanied the new CAP.

(A summary of the revised CAP is available at the Sun Newspaper Web site, www.sunnews.org. See the story “ARCO consultant advocates heating to decontaminate Bridgeport.” )

The final decision belongs to the Orange County Health Care Agency, not ARCO.

“After the CAP comment period closes, I fully expect that the Orange County Health Care Agency director will require ‘dig and haul,’ and that ARCO will agree to it,” Carmany said.

“Still unresolved at this point (are) the cleanup standards and the extent of the excavation,” Carmany said.

He also said the regulatory process for decontaminating the Bridgeport gas station had “more moving parts than a kaleidoscope.”

That same night, approximately 60 Bridgeport residents attended a community meeting in the Senior Center adjacent to the Mary Wilson Library.

At the meeting, several residents said they planned to attend the Monday, July 12 City Council meeting.

In related news, Carmany said ARCO/BP America has agreed to reimburse the city for the February, March and April invoices generated by Dudek, the city of Seal Beach’s consultant on the clean up effort.

In an interview, Carmany said he had received confirmation from Arco’s lawyers.

Carmany was confident the money would be paid.

“ARCO has always been good to their word,” he said.

Carmany was referring to the fact that the Bridgeport site is not the first ARCO-related clean up issue that has come up in Seal Beach.

Earlier this year, BP West Coast agreed to reimburse Seal Beach 97 percent of the cost of cleaning up a former ARCO gas station site on Lampson Avenue.

The Lampson site was decontaminated last year after a construction crew working on a city project discovered evidence of petroleum contamination.

ARCO is part of BP America, which is part of BP Global, which is the company responsible for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The next Bridgeport Community meeting will be held July 21.