Opinion: Truth about Bay City Partners’ property

Ed Selich

At the Sept. 12, Seal Beach City Council meeting, former Councilmember Charles Antos submitted a 22-page document and proceeded during Oral Communications to make numerous misstatements regarding the hazardous material remediation that has occurred on the property in Seal Beach, which is the former site of the former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power plant.

His claims were misinformed, inaccurate and outright misleading, and the documentation out of context.

Subsequently, the current owners of the property, Bay City Partners, LLC, was compelled to set the record straight on the subject and sent a response to the City Council that is summarized herein.

The materials provided by Mr. Antos, in addition to his oral statements, illustrate the hazards of accepting material that is out of context and allowing opinions without proper source documentation. In this case, both were filled with inferred conclusions by laypersons not qualified to opine on such matters. It is Bay City Partners’ hope that the City Council and the community will not rely on this information without proper confirmation of the facts.

Bay City Partners has accumulated more than 50,000 pages of official documentation on this property, resulting in the most complete and exhaustive collection of documents that exists. Bay City Partners has also compiled a detailed timeline of the required hazardous material remediation that has occurred on the site to date.

Bay City Partners cites the reference documents and has made them available to anyone wishing to view them. All documents referred to in the timeline have been previously submitted to the city as part of the litigation and subsequent settlement agreement. The timeline and supporting documents answered the questions raised by the City Council at the Sept. 12 meeting.

The timeline shows that 483 soil samples and 400 air samples were taken and analyzed as part of the hazardous material remediation by LADWP. Bay City Partners has sequentially listed the significant milestones in that process. Where opinions are cited, Bay City Partners has taken them directly from the source documents.

In the interest of transparency, Bay City Partners has made its documentation available to the City Council, City staff and the community to provide the most accurate information possible on all aspects of this project. Despite this, statements have been made that are incorrect and documentation has been taken out of context by those in opposition to Bay City Partners in an effort to justify their opinions.

However inaccurate, Bay City Partners doesn’t necessarily attribute some of the misinformation being spread to any malicious efforts. Rather, it realizes the property has a long and complicated 44-year history since the initial demolition and that keeping facts straight over that long a period is difficult at best. As stated earlier, Bay City Partners has over 50,000 pages of documents which document the actual history of the property.

In summary, the site has been remediated to a level safe for residential, recreational or commercial development. Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance and is frequently found in its natural state at levels not harmful to humans. Because of the history of this property, the project will be monitored during construction in order to assure that no harmful substances remain. In the unlikely event that this occurs, any harmful soil will be removed and replaced with clean soil.

The following is a condensed version of the timeline submitted to the City Council:

  • 1967—Power plant and aboveground structures demolished.
  • August 1986—Asbestos encountered.

December 1986—Plans were approved by Orange County Health Agency to identify the location(s) of asbestos, a method for removal and complete abatement.

  • March 1987—Seal Beach issued a grading permit to remove identified asbestos, remaining foundations, and all underground structures.

The underground tanks were remediated for residual contaminants and removed under supervision of the Orange County Fire Department. The discharge tunnel was demolished and filled in. Slight depressions remained on the northern section of the property where the two above ground tanks stood and these were remediated and filled in. 33,781 cubic yards of grading took place with 25,541 cubic yards of cut and 8,240 cubic yards of imported soil.

Approximately 3,500 cubic yards were exported from the site to a hazardous materials disposal facility. All voids were filled in with clean soil. The ramp to the former bridge across the San Gabriel River was removed. In the time since the grading took place no grading or soil movement has taken place on the property with the exception of turning the top soil over with a disk to maintain weed control.

  • March 3, 1987—LADWP submitted a Final Cleanup Plan report to OCHA. The report concluded: “More than 3,500 cubic yards of potentially contaminated soil and debris were safely removed and properly disposed. Over 400 air samples were taken of which none exceed the PEL. DWP, in accordance with the Cleanup Plan submitted and approved by OCHCA, has sampled, tested, removed contaminated soil and debris, resampled and verified that the site has been cleaned of asbestos.”
  • August 1987—OCHA issued a certification that the property has been properly remediated for asbestos.
  • November 1997—LADWP completed an internal Phase I Environmental Study of the site. April 1999—Dames and Moore, consulting engineers, completed a Phase I Environmental Study, which recommended that a Phase II Environmental Study with soil sampling be performed.
  • February 2000—Parsons Engineering submitted a Phase II Study. Analysis for asbestos came up negative except for three locations. A total of 147 soil samples were taken for asbestos and other compounds. 127 samples were taken and analyzed for asbestos using a Polarized Light Method (PLM). The Parsons Study primary conclusion was:

“Given the presence of residual asbestos in certain areas of the site; the need for importing clean fill should be considered as part of the land use planning process.”

It is important to note that this recommendation suggests only those three locations as having detectable levels of known near surface asbestos, not the entire site.

  • February 2001—Tetra Tech took the Parsons Study to a higher level of analysis and performed a supplemental soils investigation. This study took an additional 109 samples, and re-analyzed selected samples from the Parsons study. Tetra Tech concluded:

 “Risks associated with the different future redevelopment scenarios are acceptable.”

  • September 2011—The city of Seal Beach contracted with Dudek Associates to do additional soils investigation.

Fifteen additional soil samples will be taken to a depth of 6-feet because previous studies cleared the site for subsurface asbestos. Any asbestos on the site would be non-site related “residual” asbestos on or near the surface and not related to any activity on the site.

The results of this study are expected in November 2011 and will be part of the EIR for the proposed Ocean Place project.

Ed Selich is the project manager for Bay City Partners, owners of the site of the former DWP property  in Seal Beach.