Residents near Tustin hangar say they’re still waiting for asbestos debris to be removed from homes

Two weeks after the blimp hangar fire ignited overnight at the shuttered Tustin Marine Corps Air Station, residents say they are still waiting for asbestos waste emitted from the historic hangar to be collected from their homes.

Residents standing by for city-hired contractors to remove asbestos say they have been forced to live in hotels, test their homes for asbestos and hire companies to remediate their houses as the city continues to wait for more help on clean up efforts.

Jeff Lawrence, who lives in a neighborhood across the street from the hangar, said debris is all over his yards and roof. Lawrence paid out of pocket to confirm that the chunks of debris outside had asbestos.

“Because all of this is uncoordinated, nobody really knows what they should be doing,” Lawrence said.

Two samples of debris collected from Lawrence’s backyard tested positive for containing asbestos, according to a lab report he shared with the newspaper. Asbestos comprised 20% of one sample and 70% of another.

Tustin Mayor Austin Lumbard said he’s been frustrated with the situation, but approvals for cleaning up private property have to go through environmental agencies first. “It’s been a regulatory obstacle to get all the agencies aligned and allow that to happen.”

“We are going on day 16 and frankly that’s unacceptable,” Lumbard said Wednesday. “Seems like a pretty simple task to collect physical debris.”

Lumbard said the city hopes contractors can start cleaning up debris from people’s homes in the coming days. The City Council Tuesday night approved using $7.8 million from the city’s reserves for paying the asbestos contractors that have been working, with the goal to have the cost reimbursed by the state or federal government.

That money will cover the costs for a few weeks, Lumbard said, but won’t be enough to fund the entire cleanup effort. The Navy, which owns the hangar, has given the city $1 million and officials have said more money will be coming.

Another neighbor that had testing done for asbestos at their home near the north hangar that burned down learned that the dust in their entryway and kitchen tested positive for asbestos, along with a chunk of debris found in the front yard, according to a lab report provided to the newspaper.

A 2020 Orange County Grand Jury report looking at the future of the long-vacated hangars identified the south hangar as having asbestos, lead, biological and groundwater contaminants, and assumed those existed, too, in the north hangar.

Oladele Ogunseitan, a professor in UC Irvine’s Department of Population Health and Disease Prevention who researches toxic environmental pollution, said there’s no known safe level of exposure to asbestos, and if someone tests their home and finds asbestos, they should be worried and try to remediate.

“If somebody is right by the hangar when the fires started, and they stayed there, I would call that Zone 0,” Ogunseitan said. “They are right there breathing it in. They don’t have protection. And as you move further away from the fires, then it depends on where the wind blows.”

Congressional leaders have asked the South Coast Air Quality Management District to provide clarification if surrounding areas of the county were tested and found to be positive for traces of asbestos. There were Santa Ana wind events while the fire burned

Ogunseitan said once asbestos lands on soil or surfaces, it’s not going to degrade.

“It’s just going to stay there,” Ogunseitan said. “Dusting, using a vacuum, all of those things re-release the settled asbestos filaments back into the air for people to breathe.”

Lawrence said he wants more communication between the government agencies handling the situation and the public and lambasted the overall response.

“Everybody, from the (county grand jury) reports, knew that this thing had asbestos in it,” Lawrence said. “It’s just completely logical to think when it burns, and it’s going toward all these communities, that you would probably want to warn these people to close their windows, or stay inside or anything like that, but it didn’t happen.”

Hours after the fire began on Nov. 7, parents were dropping their kids off at school at Heritage Elementary, just a few hundred yards from the hangar.

AQMD issued a smoke advisory on Nov. 8 and warnings about asbestos from the fire on Nov. 9, after testing confirmed its presences in some smoke and debris. The city continues to issue daily incident updates on its website, which mentions air monitoring continues and give the process for residents to request removal of debris.

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

San Clemente Attack: 2 Marines Beaten by Group of Teens

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. – Two Marines were beaten by a group of teenagers and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Monday was searching for the attackers.

The melee began about 9:15 p.m. Friday near the pier located at the end of Avenida del Mar, and OCSD deputies responded to the site, according to sheriff’s spokesman Mike Woodroof.

The pair of Marines were treated at the scene for minor injuries to their hands, knees, abdomens and heads, but they refused to go to a hospital, Woodroof said.

It’s unclear how many people attacked the two men, but Woodroof said the number was likely somewhere between 10 and 30.

A minute-long video which has circulated online captured the brawl. In the video the Marines are seen on the ground trying to shield themselves from the attack.

The brawl appears to come to an end after two individuals, a man and a woman, step in, telling the group to stop, the station reported.

Click here to read the full article in Fox 11 News