Conveniently located across the street from Huntington Beach's
Hamilton Edison High School and surrounded by homes, the Ascon-Nesi Hazardous Waste Dumpsite has for decades reigned as one of Southern California's most benighted chunks of real estate. It was created some 70 years ago as a landfill for the city's burgeoning oil industry, where untold tons of tar, slurry and other byproducts were dumped into several large lagoons.
Later, during Surf City's population boom of the early 1970s, everything from construction materials and abandoned vehicles to hazardous chemicals were dumped there, before the site closed in the mid-1980s.
But now, the entire mess has finally been sucked up and hauled off-site to someplace else.
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At least, that's what the Orange County Register is reporting today, in a story declaring that the first stage of a year-old cleanup effort that itself took more than a decade to arrange is now nearly complete, with an estimated 96,000 tons of a total of 100,000 tons of waste removed, and nearly all the lagoons buried. The rest of the cleanup, which will cost up to $81 million, according to the Register, will last another three to four years.
If that sounds like a long time, consider the fact that the Weekly first exposed the dangerous inaction by local officials regarding the site as early as 1997, and despite promises in reaction to that story to speed up cleanup efforts, it wasn't until 2009 that the current cleanup work actually began.
Ironically, one abortive effort to clean up the dump in the 1980s was protested by nearby residents worried that if the plan worked, developers would build more houses on the site, thus increasing local traffic. Leave it to Orange County to produce folks who'd rather share space with lagoons full of lethal substances rather than more neighbors. Such concerns, amazingly, linger on, as evidenced by one commenter on today's Reg story, who said "I am happy this site is finally getting cleaned up, but i sincerely hope they never try to build housing on top of it!"