ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS-In mid-November, the Alliance of River Communities (ARC) hosted a long overdue meeting in Elysian Valley where LA City Bureau of Engineering (BOE) briefly presented a summary on the status of the contaminated Taylor Yard Parcel G2 (Parcel G2), discussed its second EPA2 Brownfields Cleanup grant application, and the City goal to “activate” the parcel’s river frontage.
(Graphic above: Site Map taken from: 20181130 TaylorYardG2Remedial_Investigation_Report-Main.1)
Parcel G2 was part of the former Union Pacific Railroad network. Property was a rail yard operations site used for rail car and locomotive maintenance and fueling. Site included a diesel shop and storage facility. Under various other names the network existed from 1865-1996. Taylor Yard Parcel G2 permanently closed in 2006 and was demolished in 2009. 3
Elysian Valley is the nearest community to the contaminated Parcel G2. It sits smack in the middle and across the river from the hazardous brownfield. Elysian Valley is bounded by the 2-Freeway on the north and the Pasadena on the east, the Los Angeles River and the 5-Freeway on the south.
In 2017, the City bought the highly contaminated 42-acre Parcel G2, that sits east of Elysian Park, on the northern riverbed of the Los Angeles River and behind the railroad tracks of El Rio de Los Angeles State Park on San Fernando Road in Cypress Park.
BOE is taking the lead in the restoration of the contaminated parcel. Katherine Doherty, from the BOE Clean Water Bond Program, is Parcel G2/ Paseo del Rio project manager. Doherty has been working on the project for the last two years along with Deborah Weintraub, Chief Deputy City Engineer of the Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. Weintraub is leading the design and public outreach process for the project. The team is in partnership with government agencies, city departments, and hired City consultants. It adheres to policy as directed by City Council District 1 and the Mayor’s Office.
According to stakeholders who live in Elysian Valley, this is the first time BOE or any government agency has held a public meeting to answer stakeholders’ questions on the subject.
After the fact, in August of this year, nonprofit volunteer who is on the BOE team, Austin X canvassed the Elysian Valley and the Elysian Valley Riverside Neighborhood Council distributing copies of a BOE poster with fine print in English and Spanish concerning the Taylor Yard River Park Project. Poster was to inform residents about the G2 Parcel contamination and site testing/remediation that started in June 2018. Austin did not have the knowledge to answer questions. At the NC, he said, “I’m just the messenger.”
The City sold a 12.5 - acre easement on the north side of Parcel G2 to the Mountain Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) that now owns the rights to develop within the easement. MRCA works in conjunction with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) and is also working close with the Parcel G2 project team. This easement will possibly develop into “a multipurpose easement for habitat restoration, open space preservation and to provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities.”5
EPA Brownfields Cleanup Grants
Last year, the LA City Brownfields Program run by the Citywide Assessment Team under the Bureau of Sanitation applied for and was awarded a federal cleanup grant for a portion of the contaminated Parcel G2, receiving $500,000. This program works with the state water resources control board and the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to support environmental assessments and cleanups.
DTSC is the lead regulatory oversight agency for the contaminated Parcel G2 project and has reviewed and approved the remedial investigation.
Similarly, this year the City applied for the second EPA Brownfields grant to clean another area of Parcel G2. The grant application due date was December 3, 2019. Awards will be announced in June 2020, and funding will be available in October 2020.
Key Contaminants found in Parcel G2
City documents state that in [fiscal year] 2018-19 a remedial investigation was completed for the entire 42-acre Parcel G2. The “three primary contaminants of concern for soil gas were tetrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE), and vinyl chloride (VC). These concentrations exceeded the residential or commercial screening levels in 80% of the site area.”6
In addition, the key contaminants of concern documented in the soil include lead, total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) as Diesel range organics and benzo(a)pyrene. Approximate 40% of Parcel G2 has leachable lead concentrations in buried soil that exceed the threshold value for California hazardous waste. Asbestos debris (apparent roofing material) is present at ground surface throughout an approximate 150 foot by 300-foot area (read the report). DTSC reviewed and approved the remedial investigation. 6
BOE stated there wouldn’t be a total cleanup, but it will engage in phases to remediate the soil contamination as funding sources become available and upon the approval of DTSC.
“The pollutants could be as deep 80 feet, and a 20-foot remediation would be sufficient,” said Ms. Weintraub. “City would start by placing a retardant dust over the ground to keep the pollutants from rising. Then, put a Soil-SementR cap over the ground.”
Residents Health Concerns
Elysian Valley residents have health concerns regarding the contaminated soil retardant (at Parcel G2) that is constantly blown around and up by ongoing traffic, as trucks with heavy equipment drive over the suppressant when working in the adjacent easement.
Residents are requesting from BOE, the placement of air quality electronic monitors at nearby schools, on the grounds of el Rio de Los Angeles State Park, and on the River Park residential complex adjacent to Parcel G2 to measure the amount of pollutants in the air and alert the faculty in the schools and residents of the ongoing level of contamination exposure for their precaution and safety.
Lastly, Doherty said that her team is at the preliminary stages of looking for ways to potentially partner with El Rio de Los Angeles State Park and apply for a grant from the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy to activate the G2 parcel river frontage turning it into a recreational typology.”
- 20181130-TaylorYardG2Remedial_Investigation_Report-Main. (1 of 6).
- The United States Environmental Protection Agency, EPA.gov.
- Taylor Yard Status Report_Jan-Mar_3rd Qtr 2018
- The Brownfields Cleanup Grant Application for the Paseo del Rio Project Area for
Fiscal Year 2020, Page 2, City of Los Angeles (FY2020).
(Connie Acosta is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate and member of the Los Angeles Press Club.)
Tags: Connie Acosta, LA City Bureau of Engineering, LA City Brownfields Program, Alliance of River Communities (ARC), Elysian Valley, Taylor Yard Parcel G2, EPA