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Santa Monica Council to Consider New Contract to Help Prevent Hazardous Landfill Leaks
Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark
Roque & Mark Real Estate
2802 Santa Monica Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
(310)828-7525 -

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica


By Lookout Staff

July 26, 2016 -- A switch in vendors will be considered by the City Council Tuesday for the costly job of preventing potentially hazardous gas leaks from a covered landfill under Santa Monica’s City Yards.

City staff is recommending a five-year contract with California-based ES Engineering not to exceed $671,623 to maintain the City's gas-extraction system at the 14.7-acre municipal site that dates back to the 1940s.

The contract earmarks $131,926 for the first year, with renewal options for each of the remaining four years, contingent on funding being available.

The City began operating an extraction system in 1998 to collect and treat gases from a former landfill underneath much of the City’s Municipal Yard and Gandara Park, a City report to the Council said.

picture of City Incinerator 1952 Incinerator operator at City Yards (1952) Santa Monica Image Archives

The system currently uses 51 probes to determine whether gases are escaping from the landfill’s surface in worrisome concentrations, and whether the system is effectively minimizing emissions.

Decomposing materials from landfills can trigger elevated levels of toxic air contaminants and lead to combustion, asphyxiation, exposure to carcinogens, smog formation, groundwater contamination and vegetation damage.

The City’s current $871,776, five-year contract for the job, with ICF International of Irvine, expires August 26. ICF was first contracted for the task in 2002, according to City staff.

The landfill was created more than 80 years ago when a clay company making bricks excavated a large pit in the area. After operations ceased, the City filled the hole with construction waste, eventually covering it with a park.

Now, the old pit is covered by both the park and half of the acreage of City Yards, a sprawling site used for everything from maintenance of City vehicles to training for its firefighters.

Dating back to the late 1940s, the Yard’s collection of 15 buildings has been repaired over the years but have failed to meet the City's needs for at least two decades, officials said.

An ambitious modernization plan is underway, which poses a concern for the landfill gas extraction system’s ongoing effectiveness, the report said.

The site faces big “infrastructure changes that could require reconfiguration of the existing extraction and treatment systems,” staff said.

But the report notes it is also difficult to determine a “comprehensive and cost-effective” scope of services for a period beyond five years.

“Specifically, gas conditions in the landfill are dynamic and vary over time as the extraction system effectively mitigates different sections of the site, thereby imposing uncertain future regulatory and monitoring standard,” the report said.

ES Engineering was preliminarily selected in June from four bids received. The other contenders were Biogas Engineering, ICF International and SCS Field Services (45 firms downloaded the City’s request for proposal).

“The firm had the most qualified and experienced project manager who ranked significantly higher in technical competency and references than the other proposers," the report added.

"The firm has been managing similar landfill gas control projects for various municipalities, including the City of Newport Beach and the Garden Grove Sanitary District, and clients expressed satisfaction over the company’s professionalism and expertise,” staff said.

Field measurements for landfill gas is commonly done using a GEM2000, a portable electronic instrument that measures the percentages of methane, carbon dioxide, oxygen and nitrogen present.

When required, or necessary for verification, field samples are sent to analytical laboratories for testing using various Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) methods.

The system also has been approved by anti-pollution and health services agencies in California and Los Angeles County.

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