HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. – Neil O’Brien says he’ll go pretty much anywhere on his motorcycle, especially in his hometown of Huntington Beach.
But there’s one place he won’t go anywhere near — and that’s the Ascon Landfill.
“I don’t want to go anywhere near it because I’m afraid I’m going to get sick,” said O’Brien.
O’Brien was a drill rig operator for Datum Exploration in the early 1980s. He drilled all around Huntington Beach for soil samples. But he quit his job after being exposed to sites with toxic chemicals. He says the list of 17 toxic chemicals at the Ascon site is alarming for anyone near it.
“I would say all by themself, they’re brutally deadly, but mix them together as a cocktail, I’d say they’re absolutely deadly,” said O’Brien.“I would say all by themself, they’re brutally deadly, but mix them together as a cocktail, I’d say they’re absolutely deadly,” said O’Brien. “I wouldn’t go anywhere near them.”
He lived in Huntington Beach for 25 years and says he never even knew the landfill existed — even with his job. Even though the site has been around since 1938, it stopped being an active toxic waste dump in 1984.
And while the landfill’s original owners are no longer alive, according to Ascon “several parties” whose predecessors used the site signed up to clean the landfill up.
The site is now owned by Cannery Hamilton Properties and the signs of where much of the waste came from — the oil industry — are still everywhere.
O’Brien’s biggest concern now is that that toxic waste, which has been in the ground for decades, has seeped into the water below.
“I don’t see how it couldn’t because this stuff is leaching. To say it hadn’t… that flies in the face of common sense,” he said.
According to the Department of Toxic Control Substances Final Remedial Action Plan, data collected from 25 wells throughout the site, shows that groundwater, which is present at “shallow depths” doesn’t contribute to the Huntington Beach Flood Control Channel and that there are no drinking water wells within three miles of the site.
But O’Brien, who has since changed careers, believes the site still could be impacting the public’s health.
“I could be paranoid or I could be the lucky guy who’s safe,” he said.