Conveniently located right across the street from Edison High school, the Ascon Nesi landfill is the place to go if you're looking for a glimpse of decades of environmental degradation, neglect, and under-regulation. There are five lagoons full of oil, sludge, petroleum byproducts and various cancer-causing chemicals, as well as eight pits full of debris related to the oil and construction industries, which used the dumpsite as a waste repository for decades.
Two years ago, long-promised cleanup efforts finally started, and according to the Orange County Register
, 70,000 tons of waste has already been removed
. But those efforts stalled, and according to a recent update from the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the rest of all that toxic goo won't get sucked out of the lagoons and carted off-site until 2015 at the earliest.
When I first wrote about Ascon Nesi's death lagoons back in February 1998--I'd include a link to the story but this was just before we started publishing online--all that protected the public from their slimy depths was a broken chain-link fence and a couple of discarded "No Tresspassing" signs. Within days of the publication of the article, which ran complete with photographs of dead pelicans protruding from tarpits and fields of rusting barrels, the fence had been fixed and the signs replaced. But still the sludge remained.
According to the DTSC, the agency is still not sure exactly how much waste will ultimately be removed as opposed to simply buried onsite. The agency has proposed a series of community meetings to discuss these plans as part of its environmental impact review, but none have been scheduled yet. Ironically, when cleanup efforts were first proposed in the early 1990s, many neighbors complained that they only wanted the dumpsite cleaned up if the location wouldn't be used to build more houses. Toxins sure beats traffic!