News Release

City of Irvine
Public Information Office

1 Civic Center Plaza
Irvine, CA 92606
949-724-6253

11/25/2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Public Information Office
949-724-6253
pio@cityofirvine.org

Frank. R. Bowerman Landfill Update

The Frank R. Bowerman Landfill was damaged during the Silverado Fire. Orange County Waste & Recycling provides recovery status updates via their website, also posted below.  

December 17 Update:

On December 17, 2020, the SCAQMD Hearing Board held proceedings to consider the granting of a regular variance and an adoption of a final compliance date for repair of the Frank R. Bowerman Landfill gas collection system, landfill condensate/leachate collection system and landfill flare system. The landfill has been operating under a temporary variance (the regular variance is essentially an extension) since the Silverado Fire. The variance protection allows the Bowerman Landfill to continue operations and perform repairs while temporarily waiving certain requirements for excess emissions due to equipment damage caused by the Silverado Fire. Excess emissions compliance is established on-site and does not apply to the subject odors being experienced within the surrounding neighborhoods. Also, this hearing was not to specifically address the general issue of neighborhood odor complaints before or after the Silverado Fire. The Board discussed and considered whether or not a ‘nuisance’ exists (i.e. from the landfill odors) as a result of the temporary variance that the landfill is currently operating under (and whether or not a ‘nuisance’ would continue if a regular variance was approved.

For a webcast of the meeting, visit  http://www.aqmd.gov/home/news-events/webcast/live-webcast?ms=lHXjF0mvahc

December 15 Update:

The Hearing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District will be holding proceedings to consider the granting of a regular variance from South Coast AQMD Rules and Regulations and the adoption of a final compliance date for OC Waste & Recycling Bowerman Landfill. Bowerman Landfill anticipates excess emissions as a result of this variance. The extent of the emissions and other potential pollutants will be determined by the Hearing Board.

The hearing will be held via Zoom on Thursday, December 17 at 9 a.m. To virtually attend the hearing, click the button below for more information:

South Coast AQMD Hearing on Bowerman Landfill 

The hearing will also be webcast and can be viewed here

December 2 Update:

Letter from OCWR Director Tom Koutroulis regarding Frank R. Bowerman Landfill Silverado Fire Update to the Irvine City Council. 

November 25 Update:

As of this morning, we are ahead of schedule on the recovery effort as repairs to the landfill gas collection system have been substantially completed. All five landfill gas flares are operational. We will return to optimal levels of gas collection on Monday, November 30, 2020, with collection continuing to increase after that as we fine tune the well field over the next three to four weeks.  

This milestone in the recovery effort will help mitigate the odor nuisance. However, the results of this phase may not be evident overnight. We will continue to monitor and evaluate all environmental data to assist in our improvement efforts.   

The landfill's ability to begin accepting waste again will not impact our efforts in managing the LFG system.  

Please continue to use the Neighbor Support Portal to submit questions and concerns. We will post this and other updates on the Bowerman Recovery Update webpage.  

What damage occurred to the landfill and what impacts are there to the community?
The fire caused damage to some environmental controls and storm water infrastructure. This includes exposed sections of the liner system and the landfill gas system. In addition, basic utilities such as electrical lines and poles were damaged. OCWR’s initial focus was to safely secure the site from residual spot fires, assess damage and re-establish basic utilities.
The landfill gas system has been capped and daily air quality measurements indicate no threat of hazardous levels per state regulations. There are no exposed trash cells and basic odor control measures are in place that include water trucks and misting systems with increased odor neutralizer. As of Nov. 25, all five landfill glass flares are operational and over the next 3-4 weeks we will fine tune the wells for optimal gas collection.
How is air quality being monitored to make sure we are safe?
Air quality monitoring is conducted by the AQMD and is the best resource for monitoring healthy levels as well as providing tips for activity following a major wildfire event such as the Silverado Fire.
Up-to-date air quality alerts are available through www.airnow.gov. At the landfill site, staff monitor daily landfill gas emissions using four-gas meters. To date, no monitors have activated alarms due to hazardous readings. Since November 2, measurements have been taken in the Portola Springs and Lambert Ranch communities. Results yielded levels below hazardous concentrations with the four-gas meters. OCWR will discuss continued measurements for the community and provide ongoing updates.
What can we expect in the coming days and weeks?
The landfill will reopen on Monday, November 30 with normal operating hours. Accepting waste again will not impact our efforts in managing the LFG system.
How will we be kept informed and continue to receive information?
Residents are encouraged to visit https://www.oclandfills.com/news/bowerman-landfill-silverado-fire-recovery-update for up-to-date information regarding FRB recovery efforts. A newly established email address, FRBRecovery@ocwr.ocgov.com, has been established for residents to submit questions. The next scheduled public meeting is Thursday, Dec. 3.
Where can I submit a comment or concern?
Please visit https://ocwrnsp.ocgov.com/Complaint/Create?LandfillId=7 to submit your comments or concerns and a staff member will follow-up with you shortly after we receive your message.
 

November 23 Update:

Landfill operations to resume Monday, Nov. 30

As of this morning, we are ahead of schedule on the recovery effort as repairs to the landfill gas collection system have been substantially completed. All five landfill gas flares are operational. We will return to optimal levels of gas collection on Monday, November 30, 2020, with collection continuing to increase after that as we fine tune the well field over the next three to four weeks.

This milestone in the recovery effort will help mitigate the odor nuisance. However, the results of this phase may not be evident overnight. We will continue to monitor and evaluate all environmental data to assist in our improvement efforts.    

The landfill's ability to begin accepting waste again will not impact our efforts in managing the LFG system.   

Please continue to use the Neighbor Support Portalto submit questions and concerns.

November 23 Update:

Frank. R. Bowerman Reopening

Our initial repair progress has exceeded the projected timeline. As of now we are projecting completion by Nov. 27 and will resume landfill operations on Nov. 30.

In addition, the power plant is on track to resume operations on Nov. 30 which will further extract landfill gas.  Over the next month we will tune the well field to optimize the performance of the landfill gas collection and control system.

November 19 Update:

Chronicle of Ambient Air Monitoring

The Silverado Fire began around 6:52 a.m. on October 26, 2020, along Santiago Canyon road approximately 2 miles east of the landfill during extremely high wind conditions. The fire burned 12,466 acres in the middle of Orange County and caused enough damage to the FRB Landfill that normal operations have yet to resume. To provide information and respond to concerns from the neighboring communities, OCWR immediately initiated biweekly community meetings. Very soon after OCWR began to perform ongoing air monitoring, testing, and analysis to ensure the landfill was not a source of health concerns for the community. Below is a chronicle listing of those events:

  • On our 11/2/20 community meeting, we heard the community’s concerns with air quality as it relates to health and safety
  • On 11/3/20 we initiated neighborhood monitoring for ambient air hazards using handheld devices
  • On 11/3/20 we initiated planning for ambient air sampling
  • On 11/4/20 we contracted sampling to take place for Landfill Compliance and to review the laboratory analytical ambient air data for health and safety concerns
  • On 11/5/20 a 24-hour sampling event was started on the landfill property between the active landfill and the property boundary.
  • On 11/6/20 the 24-hour sampling concluded, and samples were sent to a certified laboratory for expedited processing.
  • On 11/10/20 the laboratory results were received and reviewed
  • On 11/12/20 the results were shared at the community meeting
  • On 11/14/20 the City of Irvine reached out with information on a study being performed by their environmental consultant group Delta.
  • On 11/16/20, OCWR engaged with a health risk assessor and toxicologist to ensure to review the ambient air data collected by the County and City’s consultant.
  • On 11/18/20, OCWR was able to provide an executive summary prepared by the toxicologist to the City of Irvine regarding OCWR’s and Group Delta’s results. This executive summary was included as an attachment to the Group Delta Report presented to the Irvine City Council.
  • Although the findings of all the toxicologists report no health hazards associated with ambient air in the community, OCWR identified the benefit of continued health risk sampling and analysis during the duration of landfill repairs and for a duration after repairs are complete.
  • The continuation health risk sampling will commence on Friday and will continue on a weekly basis through the completion of the monitoring program.
    • 24-hour collection by canisters placed in the community
  • Daily field monitoring will continue with handheld devices as initiated earlier in November.

November 16 Update:

· The County has been performing air quality testing on the landfill, near the landfill property boundary, and on-going air monitoring in the neighboring community.

· Our on-site tests have shown there is no immediate danger to life or health, and toxins are below the regulatory thresholds that apply to OCWR employee safety.

· As we all know it is important for testing results to compare to levels that are appropriate for short term duration and not just look at content without considering historical background air quality data or duration of an event or other contributing factors.

· We have engaged a toxicologist to analyze the data, identify appropriate reference levels, and provide further details regarding the test results which we will share with the community specifically in response to your health and safety concerns.

Operational Update:

· LFG Collection System repairs continue, previously we stated the flares were scheduled to be operational on 11/22. Today, the flares were turned on at 1 pm and have begun the process of destroying landfill gas.

· LFG repairs to the remaining collection wells will continue at a rapid progression. New estimated timeframe for the damaged collection wells to be brought online is 11/26 ahead of the 12/11 original completion date.

· Once LFG system is activated, OCWR and Powerplant will work to tune the well field to optimize collection and performance.

· To further assist the neighboring communities experiencing odors, OCWR has obtained a portable thermal oxidizer which has been brought online today and will assist with supplemental LFG extraction.

· Through well field tuning, OCWR is working with Bowerman Power to bring the power plant online to further increase landfill gas collection.

November 12 Update:

On October 26, 2020 the Silverado Fire extended to the Frank R. Bowerman Landfill in Irvine and forced the temporary closure of the Landfill. The fire impacted several areas of the landfill, including damage to electrical infrastructure and portions of the LFG Collection and Control equipment. Thankfully, no customers or employees were injured as a result of this devastating fire.  

In response to the damage caused by the fire, OCWR quickly mobilized forces to make necessary repairs to damaged landfill infrastructure.  OCWR is working to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, impacts that might be felt in surrounding communities, however the shutdown of the landfill gas system creates an increasing possibility that landfill odors may be noticed in neighborhoods near the landfill.   All regulatory agencies involved with the environmental control of the landfill, including the SCAQMD, are aware of this temporary situation and have issued necessary waivers as we work seven days per week to restore the landfill to full compliance.   

Current Status of Landfill Repairs: 

  • (Completed) October 31:  All exposed wellheads or other LFG source points have been capped and staff is actively monitoring the site for new LFG emissions. 
  • (Completed) November 6: Power restored to site.  Southern California Edison crews worked to repair or replace 43 power poles and other impacted electrical infrastructure.   
  • (In Progress): Bring flare stations back online. (Estimated completion November 22) 
  • (In Progress): Complete gas collection and control system repairs. (Estimated completion December 14) 
  • (In Progress):  Coordination with Bowerman Power on resuming LFG energy production and well field tuning.   

Community Updates 

OCWR has held two online community meetings/Q+A sessions. Another is scheduled for Thursday, November 12 at 4 p.m.  You can use this link to connect to the next online session:  

LINK TO NOV. 12 SKYPE MEETING Updates regarding the status of the landfill can be found on OCLandfills.com, in the News & Headlines section at the bottom of the home page.  If you have concerns or questions, please use our Neighbor Support Portal – CLICK HEREfor the quickest response. 

OCWR sincerely appreciates residents’ understanding while we work to repair the landfill systems. 

Sincerely, 

Tom Koutroulis