On Wednesday (July 28th), Irvine City Councilmember Larry Agran — with support from community organizers with Non-Toxic Neighborhoods and Stop Toxic Asphalt Pollutants in Irvine — hosted a community meeting at City Hall to discuss the toxic emissions and noxious odors attributed to the ongoing operations at the All American Asphalt plant in north Irvine.
Irvine residents have filed more than 800 complaints with the South Coast Air Quality Management District regarding the asphalt plant.
For several months, Mayor Farrah Khan and other Councilmembers have blocked Agran’s repeated requests for the Council to publicly discuss All American Asphalt-related health and environmental concerns, and work on a plan to identify near-term solutions to the problem.
Agran, accompanied by Irvine Planning Commissioner Mary Ann Gaido and Community Services Commissioner Jing Sun, convened the community meeting to review the facts and allow residents to provide public testimony.
Approximately 60 residents attended the meeting.
North Irvine resident Kim Konte, one of the leaders of Non-Toxic Neighborhoods, presented slides with California Air Resources Board data showing concentrations of benzene, hexavalent chromium, formaldehyde and other toxins that have dramatically increased in concentration since 2017.
Konte provided a quote from Non-Toxic Neighborhoods’ advisor Phil Landrigan, MD, MSC, FAAP who stated: “An asphalt plant can never safely coexist next to neighborhoods and schools, pregnant women, infants and young children.”
Although UCI has not taken an official role, several prestigious UCI professors have volunteered their time and expertise to help residents impacted by the asphalt plant’s toxic emissions. At the community meeting, UCI Professor Emeritus Dean Baker, MD, MPH, who served as the Director of UCI Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, discussed sampling methods used and recorded toxicity of the various pollutants in the vicinity of the asphalt plant.
The most impactful testimony of the night came from residents who shared their personal experiences.
Several residents said the fumes have gotten so bad that they are afraid to open their windows and are limiting their children’s outdoor activities. Several students from Northwood High School spoke about having their eyes burn and suffering from headaches and nosebleeds while engaged in sports activities.
One resident said she had to stop using the Jeffrey Open Space Trail. Another said she had met with Mayor Khan, who told her that complaints about air quality are matters that should be handled by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and not the City of Irvine.
A high school senior said he felt “betrayed” by the City, but that the community meeting had given him hope. Another student said he was grateful for the forum, but “sad that it had to come about this way.”
After hearing from the community, Agran stated: “The testimony shared tonight needs to be heard and responded to in earnest by the City. We are a great City with ample resources — intellectual, governmental, financial — and I believe we can and should achieve a resolution for our affected residents.”
Agran concluded by saying: “Though I am only one voice on the City Council, I am determined to press ahead, imploring my Council colleagues to hold a Special City Council Meeting in early September to hear directly from the community on this important matter.”
Irvine Community News & Views will continue to report on this critical issue.
To view the video of the community meeting, click here.
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