PARKS & RECREATION

 

Background

      1. Is there a plain language, in-depth presentation about what the investigation data show so far?

During the December 1, 2020 City Council Meeting, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board presented an update on the Skypark Commercial Properties environmental investigation. Following the presentation, City Council Members and members of the public shared their questions and received responses from Water Board leadership and staff. See a PDF of the presentation delivered during the meeting, and watch the Dec. 1 Council Meeting video (from around 00:28:26 to 2:46:00) to watch the presentation and follow-on discussion.

      2. Is there a plain language, in-depth presentation on the investigation and what it means?

The City of Lomita engaged Advisian, a Hydrogeology firm, to analyze the scientific data, review past reports produced related to this pollution matter and advise our community through the process. Dr. Mark Trudell of Advisian, briefed the City Council and community on the issue in July 2019 during the Council’s consideration of the issue. (View a video of the presentation or access a PDF version.)

The most recent investigation update came from the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board during the December 1, 2020 City Council Meeting. Following the presentation, City Council Members and members of the public shared their questions and received responses from Water Board leadership and staff. See a PDF of the presentation delivered during the meeting, and watch the Dec. 1 Council Meeting video (from around 00:28:26 to 2:46:00) to watch the presentation and follow-on discussion.

      3. What is the history of the investigation?

Investigation, cleanup and monitoring efforts related to the Hi-Shear site began in 1991 under the direction of the Los Angeles Water Board. Around 2016, the Los Angeles Water Board began to see data that warranted additional investigation into whether VOCs in the contaminated groundwater plume originating from the Site had migrated off-site and required Hi-Shear to install monitoring wells and soil vapor probes.  In 2018, after collecting data from those wells and probes, Hi-Shear contacted the City to begin discussions about further investigations required by the Los Angeles Water Board.

Because volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) were found in soil and soil vapor, a soil vapor extraction (SVE) system was installed and had been operating at the Site since 1999. SVE systems use vacuum pressure to remove VOCs from the soil, treat the VOCs, and then release the treated air into the atmosphere. The SVE system on the Hi-Shear Site was shut down in April 2018 for repairs and a system redesign. In December 2020, the SVE system on the Hi-Shear property was upgraded and full-scale operation of the system began in early January 2021.  Data collected from the operation of the system is being analyzed to determine whether modifications are necessary to optimize the removal of VOC from soil vapor.

In January 2020, the Los Angeles Water Board issued an Investigative Order to the property owner and the multiple entities that operated at the Robinson Helicopter, Dasco Engineering and South Bay Lexus properties. These properties are located immediately adjacent to the Hi-Shear property. Under this Order, these dischargers are required to delineate the vertical and lateral extent of VOCs impacts to soil, soil vapor, and groundwater onsite and offsite.

In May of 2020, the Los Angeles Water Board issued an Investigative Order to the property owner and the multiple entities that operated at the Hi-Shear, Robinson Helicopter, Dasco Engineering and South Bay Lexus properties, collectively referred to as the Skypark Commercial Properties. Under this Order, the property owner and these entities are required to assess the vapor intrusion risk to indoor air on-site and offsite and to implement a vapor intrusion response plan for the properties located east of Crenshaw Boulevard.

Investigation and remediation of this site is being taken very seriously. The Los Angeles Water Board follows a data-driven approach to site investigations to make informed decisions on protecting public health and the environment. While these types of investigations can be time-consuming, the Los Angeles Water Board and the City of Lomita are working to move things along as expeditiously as possible. 

The City is focused on ensuring a thorough and complete investigation is completed as quickly as possible and that our residents have all of the information they need throughout the process.

      4. What are the roles of the various agencies involved in this investigation?

The Los Angeles Water Board is the state regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the investigation. The Los Angeles Water Board is one of nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards who are a part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, or CalEPA. As part of their oversight, they outline requirements, review and approve work plans and other investigatory materials, coordinate with stakeholders, conduct community outreach, and ultimately ensure and enforce compliance with state and federal mandates. The Los Angeles Water Board works with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) on sites that are designated as Superfund sites or on sites that require emergency response actions.  This site has not been designated as either at this point, so  USEPA is not currently involved in overseeing the response.

The Los Angeles Water Board requires Responsible Parties to develop and provide investigation and cleanup work plans for review and approval by the Los Angeles Water Board. 

The City of Lomita is closely monitoring the investigation to ensure Lomita residents are protected and that the responsible parties are held accountable for all costs incurred by the City. The City is focused on ensuring a thorough and complete investigation is completed as quickly as possible and that our residents have all of the information they need throughout the process.

      5. Who are the responsible parties?

The Los Angeles Water Board has directed investigative orders to the following list of parties who own or operate properties located at 24751, 24777, 24707, 24747, and 24701 Crenshaw Boulevard and 2530, 2540, and 2600 Skypark Drive in the City of Torrance: City of Torrance; Dasco Engineering Corporation; Esterline Technologies Corporation; Excellon Industries, Inc. (also known as Excellon Automation Company and now known as Excellon Technologies, LLC); Hi-Shear Corporation (also known as Lisi Aerospace); Magellan Aerospace, Middletown, Inc. (formerly known as Aeronca, Inc. formerly known as Aeronca Manufacturing Corporation); and Robinson Helicopter Company.

      6. Have any of the Responsible Parties been fined?

Not at this time. The Los Angeles Water Board has the option to send a matter to enforcement, which could result in Administrative Civil Liability, if the Responsible Party violates Los Angeles Water Board directives. It is preferable in any investigation for the responsible party/parties to comply and complete the investigation and clean-up process as quickly as possible. This is the same way that the City of Lomita approaches code enforcement and code violations, the first and foremost goal is compliance.

 

Possible Impact Questions

      7. Are there any health risks residents should be aware of?

The results of the soil vapor investigation conducted east of Crenshaw Boulevard in the City of Lomita public right-of-way indicates that concentrations of two of the chemicals of concern, tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE), are above regulatory screening levels. Screening levels are intended to be conservative to ensure protection of human health and the environment and are used to help the Los Angeles Water Board make decisions about whether additional actions are necessary. The Los Angeles Water Board confers with the State Office of Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) in assessing risks based on exposure.  Until they know whether there is exposure (or the extent of such exposure), OEHHA cannot estimate risk or even determine if there is a risk.   

      8. If Lomita residents are interested in tracking health data for the area, how can that information be obtained? 

The State of California maintains a statewide population-based cancer registry that collects information about almost all cancers diagnosed in California. You can find this information on the California Cancer Registry webpage (www.ccrcal.org).

      9. Is my water safe to drink? Is it safe to use to shower and brush my teeth?   Can I water my plants and vegetables?

Groundwater at and beneath the Site is not currently a source of local drinking water. Drinking water in the City of Lomita continues to meet state and federal drinking water standards.

      10. Are fruits and vegetables grown in soil safe to eat?

According to OEHHA, fruits and vegetables grown soil that has VOC vapors are safe to eat because VOCs do not tend to accumulate in fruits and vegetables. The principal health concerns from the VOCs are related to inhalation of these compounds.

      11. Can the vapors affect my pets?

The risk to pets, like humans, is based on exposure. The Los Angeles Water Board, with assistance from OEHHA, is in the process of assessing exposure using soil vapor testing and, in some areas, indoor air sampling. 

      12. Will Lomita residents have their medical costs covered?

Evaluation or remuneration of medical conditions or costs is not part of the cleanup process overseen by the Los Angeles Water Board. Their process is to have the responsible party/parties assess and clean up the contamination to protect public health and the environment.

      13. Will there be a buyout?

Negotiations concerning claims of devalued real estate or requests for a buyout are not part of the cleanup process overseen by the Los Angeles Water Board.  Their process is to have the responsible party/parties assess and clean up the contamination to protect public health and the environment.

 

Investigation and Remediation-Related Questions

      14. Where are the areas where VOCs have exceeded the threshold/limit so far?

Sampling for VOCs is occurring in groundwater, soil and soil vapor (the pore spaces between particles of soil) and in some residents’ indoor air.  The concentrations of VOCs vary depending upon the sample location. As an example, samples located at the source area generally have the highest concentrations of VOCs in the subsurface. As the sample locations move away from the source area, we see a decrease in VOC concentrations in the subsurface. Groundwater concentrations at the source area substantially exceed maximum contaminant levels, the levels that must be met to serve the water to the public.  (Note that the contaminated groundwater in this area is not used for drinking water supply.)  The concentrations of VOCs found in soil at the source areas also exceeded screening levels that are used to protect human health.  Certain areas of the investigation also have concentrations of VOCs in soil vapor that exceed screening levels for building occupancies, which is why the Los Angeles Water Board has required a number of parties to complete a soil vapor and indoor air investigation.   

      15. How do I know if there are vapors intruding into my home?

The Los Angeles Water Board and the Responsible Parties’ environmental consultant will be contacting residents and tenants directly if their properties are in an area where sampling is occurring. 

      16. If I live in an area potentially affected, how can I expect to be contacted?

The Los Angeles Water Board and the Responsible Parties and their environmental consultant will continue to be in contact with residents and tenants directly with news and information related to this investigation. 

      17. Can I do independent testing to get vapor levels tested in my residence?

According to the Los Angeles Water Board, they have identified the area that needs to have testing completed at this time, and they have directed the Responsible Parties to conduct the testing. Residents with properties in the area identified will be contacted. If your property is not in the area currently identified as needing testing, the Los Angeles Water Board recommends that you wait until the data indicates whether additional testing is needed.   

      18. Why monitor in the crawl space and not the living space?

For homes with crawl spaces, testing is conducted in the crawl space first because vapors are more likely to be found in the crawl space than in the living space. If vapors are found in the crawl space above regulatory screening levels, then additional testing can be conducted in the living spaces. 

      19. How can the Los Angeles Water Board be assured that testing is performed ethically and meet appropriate standards? 

The Los Angeles Water Board’s role in this type of investigation is similar to the City of Lomita’s role issuing Building Permits -- to oversee and periodically inspect to ensure work is being performed according to all applicable laws and ordinances. Similarly, the Los Angeles Water Board ensures that the environmental work being conducted on behalf of the responsible parties is compliant with all applicable State laws, rules, regulations, and local ordinances. Data collected by the responsible parties is reviewed by the Los Angeles Water Board staff with the assistance of OEHHA. The Los Angeles Water Board staff conducts inspections during field investigations and testing to ensure the work being performed is in compliance with the approved work plan(s).

      20. What are the remediation methods to address soil vapor?

According to the Los Angeles Water Board, a very common method called soil vapor extraction is being implemented on the Hi-Shear property. That technology involves drilling extraction wells and installing underground piping connecting the wells to a treatment system, and then using a vacuum to suck out the vapors to the ground surface for treatment.  

      21. Why is the investigation taking so long?

The Los Angeles Water Board, which is the agency responsible for overseeing the investigation, follows a data-driven approach to site investigations to make informed decisions on protecting public health and the environment. The Los Angeles Water Board has acknowledged that it is a time-consuming process, but that it works. Residents can see the history of the project-related documents for the Hi-Shear site at https://geotracker.waterboards.ca.gov/profile_report?global_id=SL204231523

      22. When will mitigation begin?

According to the Los Angeles Water Board mitigation steps will be dependent upon the investigation data. Data from the properties identified for additional testing will help determine if there is a vapor intrusion risk to homes. Once the Los Angeles Water Board has that data, then they can determine if there is a risk and what potential mitigation measures may be appropriate.  

Questions About Future Communications

      23. Who can I contact if I have questions about my address and any property-specific questions or concerns?

The Los Angeles Water Board has provided the following points of contact for our residents with specific questions about the investigation: Susana Lagudis, Public Participation, susana.lagudis@waterboards.ca.gov  or 213-576-6694, or Kevin Lin, Project Manager, kevin.lin@waterboards.ca.gov or 213-576-6781.  We will also be working with the Los Angeles Water Board to facilitate additional meetings in the future that may be smaller and allow for more focused, candid discussions. Of course, residents are always welcome to contact the City of Lomita directly with any feedback or questions about the City’s efforts to push for further testing and remediation by calling Public Works at (310) 325-7110.

      24. How are notifications being handled in cases where the resident is a tenant (and not the residence owner)?

The Los Angeles Water Board requires notification to every tenant and owner, with notifications being mailed to both points of contact. In cases where the owners are the tenants, residents may receive two letters, but this process ensures that both tenants and owners are contacted.

      25. How are the Responsible Parties and/or the Los Angeles Water Board communicating with non-English speakers?

Based on the recommendation of several residents after the Los Angeles Water Board’s remote  community meeting in July 2020, the Los Angeles Water Board plans to send out future communications in both English and Spanish, which was identified as the second most prominent language spoken in Lomita.

Last updated December 17, 2020

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