Update from Hall Canyon Neighborhood meeting regarding update of the spill. Prepared by Robert Chianese from the meeting and working with CA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.
By Yvonne Addassi, Liaison Officer for Grove Incident Edited and revised by Bob Chianese (home owner)
Barranca Safety and Awareness Briefing
Jim Morris, Responsible Party Incident Commander (RPIC), Witt/O’Brien’s
The purpose of this briefing was to give folks a sense of the safety hazards associated with work being done in the barranca. Security has reported people in the barranca, after hours and some youths were asked not to enter. The UC takes seriously safety concerns for high school students, especially now that classes are scheduled to begin next week The UC has reached out to the High School and has coordinated with the principal. Additional signage has been posted at the entrances to the barranca as well as other strategic locations. The UC has a tailgate briefing every morning to go over safety. The general safety message from the UC is for folks to be aware of slips, trips and falls; beware of equipment that might have been left behind and cobble piles.
Also the UC pointed out the fact that the barranca is under private ownership and response workers have ability to access and work within the area through permission of the landowner
Status – Current Operations
Trent Sehlinger, Operations Section Chief (OPS), Witt/O’Brien’s
The UC is proud of another week of no accidents. We have done some work in the exclusion zone (excavation and cobble removal); utilized shoring in B-1 where we dug down 36” at the base of the culvert and removed sediment. The shoring has since been removed.
The pepper tree has been removed in Division A and the trunk will remain, due to proximity to the natural gas-line. Hand crews removed contaminated soil around the trunk.
We will be moving the stacks of cobble and cleaning up the plastic (visqueen). The draft Geotechnical Report should be available 8/24/16. Bioremediation will be the next phase.
QUESTIONS RAISED BY RESIDENTS:
1. How far down did you get?
It’s in B1 we set up shoring and dug down about 3 ft. and removed the contaminated soil. Workers did not dig down to clean sediment. We were stopped by stability issues. We used a hand auger bit and got down to clean soil at about 21 inches further down.
2. Are you going to take out the 21 inches?
No, owing to stability of the barranca walls.
Q: Does the shoring stay in the ground? A: No, it was removed today (8/17/16). Bioremediation will be what is used for anything that is left.
3. Will there be any way to clean the trail (also known as the Goat Trail)?
No, it would do more damage than good. The trail is about 35 ft. long. We cleaned around 6 ft. in one area and about 12 ft. in another area. All the gross oil was removed from the area during flushing operations. Bioremediation will be utilized for the next phase of the operation.
4. In Division B2 and B3, how far did you dig?
As the divisions have variation in the topography, this was a difficult question to answer with any specificity. Additional information will be available to residents in the Geotechnical Report. This will be summarized and made available at the August 24th meeting
Proposed – Future Operations
Trent Sehlinger, OPS/Witt O’Brien’s
Division B1 - The area has a very hard bottom. It is cemented in. You hit refusal quickly with a shovel. No further operations are anticipated with the exception of cleaning boulder and cobble and minor maintenance.
Division B2 - This is the terrain that our workers have had to work in and it shows a lot of boulders and cobble. We put in berms so that the oil didn’t migrate down any further. Mr. Ottsen’s property was used as access point. No further operations are anticipated with the exception of cleaning boulder and cobble and minor maintenance.
Division C5 - Bags are going to be removed manually next week. No further operations are anticipated with the exception of cleaning boulder and cobble and minor maintenance.
QUESTIONS RAISED BY RESIDENTS:
5. When the rains come, what is the adverse weather plan for the stream?
A summary of the Adverse Weather Plan was provided at the August 10 meeting. Residents voiced concerns that with only a small amount of rainfall, the barranca can become inundated and any measures that were put into place, might be swept away and/or could create additional problems with flooding. The UC acknowledged that with a rain event like the one experienced January of 2016, there would be
very little that could be done safely. If the UC knows with a sufficient lead time that “prevention measures” associated with the Adverse Weather Plan will be overcome, the measures could be removed. The UC is committed to doing the best that can
be done before the rainy season begins. The probability of any oil expressing itself at this point if it rains is very slight.
Current Proposed Timeline for Cleanup and Remediation Operations - Status of Operational/Project Timelines
Jim Morris, RPIC, Witt/O’Brien’s gave a brief overview of the project timeline.
6. Can we see what the endpoints are?
Cleanup endpoints can be defined as being when there are trace amounts of oil or stain left on the substrate. When placed in water a cobble should not sheen but silver sheen is allowed. We also have other constraints such as the safety of the barranca that we have to consider while working on our endpoints, as well as the safety of our workers. The UC will look to make this document available to the residents.
7. Endpoints are different for different divisions?
The criteria for cleanup ends points are consistent throughout the barranca but the constraints may allow for more cleanup in some areas than others, such as the exclusion zone. As discussed previously, this zone was flushed several times to remove any “free standing” oil.
8. Is that documented in a plan?
Yes, it will be in the plan. Safety is part of the endpoints. We try to reach all of the endpoints but may not be able to because of safety constraints.
9. Are you defining what you have achieved?
In the documentation it will state and outline the conditions of the creek bed and the endpoints.
Jennifer Gold, California Department Fish and Wildlife, Office of Spill
Prevention and Response - Environmental Unit Leader
The cleanup efforts are coming to a point where additional excavation of oil sediment is no longer possible and cobble and boulder cleaning is near an end. Cobble and boulders have been cleaned to trace amounts. Work has now reached these constraints.
The UC has been evaluating the use of bioremediation; a process of accelerating the natural degradation of oil in the environment. The product being consider is called Micro-blaze. It has microorganisms and nutrients. In order for the product to work, the barranca will need to be “wet” to keep the organisms alive. The organisms work aerobically [with oxygen], but this product can also accelerate oil degradation anaerobically [i.e. a low oxygen environment]. The UC is looking to start the use of bioremediation at the end August. That will give us 3+ weeks to use the product before remediation and restoration begins. We are excited to use this product. Sampling will be conducted before and after application to measure the effectiveness of this product.
The UC is expecting the draft “bioremediation plan” by August 23 and will make it available to the residents at the next Impacted Property Owners meeting on August 24. We are trying to apply the Micro-blaze in the barranca as fast as possible. The product will continue working as long as there is oil and water. We will keep the barranca wet to allow the oil degradation to occur. We will build up dams [only if necessary] and add water. You will see this process in more detail in the plan.
QUESTIONS RAISED BY RESIDENTS:
10. Will you be using reclaimed water (for bioremediation)?
The permitting process for using reclaimed water is lengthy and difficult. This question was first raised regarding flushing in the exclusion zone and after consulting with the Water Board, the UC realized using reclaimed water was not a viable option. We will be limiting the amount of standing water and do not intend to create pools of water. The product just needs the soil to be moist. We don’t want to attract mosquitos as part of this process; and the residents confirmed to the group that there is a significant mosquito problem in the barranca when there is standing water.
11. I am impressed with this product (Micro-blaze). Have you tried this before? Jennifer Gold talked to a specialist and got some recommendations from Padre [consultant] about some products that can be used. Trent Sehlenger, Operations Section Chief discussed that he has used Micro-blaze in other response; specifically in Louisiana, Kentucky and New Jersey. He suggested that residents look at the company’s website for more details. The product is licensed for use in California and is on the Federal National Product Schedule. The US EPA representative was confident bioremediation would work.
12. Since we don’t know how far down the oil is, how do we know if we got it all?
The UC acknowledged that it would be difficult to get to the bottom of the oiled layer in many places as the cobbles and boulders are cemented in place. The UC is evaluating all options, given the current constraints. Soils will be tested for oil content before and after bioremediation.
13. Are there any side effects using this product?
That is the benefit of California licensing is that it has to meet all of the Water Board’s standards. It has to be safe. A comment was raised regarding the product being a hazardous to children and was told that shouldn’t be a problem. The UC wanted to provide residents with our current thinking and asked Jennifer Gold to relay this information of the bioremediation discussion within the UC. The UC will have more specifics to share when the plan is submitted.
14. This is an innovative thing that you should put in the paper.
This is not new. It is used widely around the country and we are looking forward to seeing how it will work here in the barranca.
Status of Plans and Reports:
Yvonne Addassi reviewed the timeline that is provided on the handout and clarified that several meetings will be occurring in the coming weeks. The Wednesday homeowner’s meeting is a standing meeting and is scheduled out through October.
Yvonne Addassi went over the proposed timeline of upcoming events. Sign off is the process we go through that says that clean-up has met endpoints subject to our constraints.
General Discussion, Questions and Answers
Yvonne Addassi provided samples of stained cobble rocks to residents to show what it looks like when we clean it to the level of a “stain.” A stained sandstone cobble was broken open to show the limited degree of oil penetration into the rock with just a stain. Two additional stained cobbles were put into water as a demonstration of “no sheen” expected from the stained cobble and boulders.
15. Even though there is a gate at Sunset, is there going to be a time that we can walk that area from gate to gate?
This is private property. As far as the response is concerned signage will be removed, but the UC can’t comment on what the property owner will and will not allow with regards to walking along the barranca paths. This is up to the property owner.
Adjournment – 7:30