We received the below update from Cristina Vega, Community Engagement Specialist for the Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study. If you have questions please follow up with her: CVega@ph.lacounty.gov or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, please consider submitting feedback to the Community feedback log and attending one of the upcoming public meetings.
Health Study Goals and Priorities
As mandated by the $25 million settlement, Public Health convened a Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC) of 15 nationally renowned experts to guide and oversee the Aliso Canyon Health Research Study (ACDHRS). One of the SOC’s main responsibilities is to determine the goals of the ACDHRS. With the SOC’s guidance, Public Health will be administering an RFP to solicit research proposals that are responsive to the ACDHRS goals.
The SOC met five times in 2020 and those discussions, informed by community feedback submitted to Public Health and a presentation by the Community Advisory Group (CAG), have supported the development of a draft document, outlining the ACDHRS Goals & Priorities.
To ensure the ACDHRS Goals & Priorities document captures what is important to the community, the draft will be made available to the public on the ACDHRS website for a period of 4 weeks in the upcoming month. Community members will be able to provide feedback via an online survey.
The SOC will finalize the ACDHRS Goals & Priorities after having reviewed the feedback received.
The final Goals and Priorities document will be incorporated into the Request for Proposal (RFP) which will be released this Spring.
Request for Proposal (RFP)
Feedback from the Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC) informed the decision to use a Request for Proposal (RFP) process to solicit research proposals from interested vendors. The RFP will be issued publicly and will include specifics about the contract opportunity including a Statement of Work (SOW), information on minimum mandatory requirements, and funding. Further details on the research solicitation phase of the Health Study are below:
- The contract opportunity will be promoted several months before the RFP is released.
- The RFP process (from preparing the RFP to awarding the contract) will take between nine and twelve months.
- All interested researchers can submit a proposal
- The solicitation process is not limited to a pre-approved list of contractors.
- The RFP may be awarded to one or more contractors.
Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP) Proposed Analysis Plan
Public Health is aware that cancer is an immediate concern to residents of communities surrounding the Aliso Canyon facility. Public Health therefore connected Community Advisory Group (CAG) members to researchers at the University of Southern California Cancer Surveillance Program (USC CSP) to discuss possible analysis of cancer rates in the neighborhoods surrounding the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility. The USC CSP is a population-based cancer registry for Los Angeles County. Since 1980, the program has been collecting information on all new cancer cases occurring among Los Angeles County residents and maintaining a cancer registry database. Researchers at the USC CSP also investigate concerns about cancer occurrences (such as cancer clusters) by analyzing the registry data using methods permitted by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC).
Through a series of meetings, Dr. Hwang at the USC CSP developed an analysis plan to compare the rates of select cancers in the communities surrounding the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility to rates in LA County overall (controlling for specific demographic factors). This analysis could provide insight on whether cases of specific cancers in the communities surrounding Aliso Canyon are higher than expected. This analysis plan does not directly address the question raised by the CAG concerning the safety of living near Aliso Canyon, compared to living far away from oil/gas facilities. The CAG also expressed concern about the use of Los Angeles County as a comparison group due to an abundance of oil and gas facilities in the County.
In addition to the proposed analysis plan developed by USC CSP (which could be implemented in the near term), there is the possibility of a more in-depth cancer analysis as part of the Aliso Canyon Disaster Health Research Study (cancer has been identified as a health outcome of priority for the ACDHRS). Based on their knowledge of community concerns, the CAG will advise Public Health and USC CSP about proceeding with the two available options.
Aliso Canyon Waste Bins
On February 5, 2016, bins containing soil and other materials from the Aliso Canyon blowout and well-control operations were stored on-site at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility under legal hold by the Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Upon expiration of the SED CPUC legal hold, SoCal Gas was required by Federal and State laws to safely remove and dispose of the hazardous materials.
On August 4th, 2020, before the removal of the bins, Public Health worked with a third-party contractor to collect samples from waste bins containing soil and other materials from the Aliso Canyon blowout and well-control operations. The samples were tested for a wide array of chemicals found in oil and gas chemicals and the lab results are available on the ACDHRS website. The Scientific Oversight Committee (SOC) reviewed the results and recommended that additional samples be collected and stored for future use by the ACDHRS researchers if needed. On October 29, Public Health and the third-party contractor returned to the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility to collect the additional samples.
During the transport and disposal of the binned materials, SoCal Gas was required by State regulations to ensure the safety of workers and nearby residents. The Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) Health Hazardous Materials Division (HHMD) performed a visual inspection of the bins before their transport and disposal to ensure they were in compliance with Title 22 storage and accumulation requirements.
In 2016, 31 bins containing soil contaminated with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) were transported to an approved treatment/disposal facility under South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) Rule 1166. The CAG submitted two questions regarding these 31 bins and joint SCAQMD-DPH responses to these questions are provided below:
Please explain how if the 31+ missing evidence bins were determined as toxic contamination at the beginning of excavation or grading, what information is available for that designation and by whom? South Coast AQMD Rule 1166 requires that any person excavating or grading VOC-contaminated soil – such as those caused by a leak from storage or transfer operations, or accidental spillage – shall submit, obtain approval for, and operate pursuant to a site-specific mitigation plan. The rule requires that surface soil monitoring take place upon the commencement of excavation activities, as well as throughout the excavation project. Upon detection of VOC-contaminated soil, which is defined as soil registering greater than 50ppm VOC using a portable hydrocarbon analyzer, operators are required to implement mitigation plan requirements. South Coast AQMD has reviewed the waste manifests and monitoring records for the 31 bins determined to contain VOC-contaminated soil and documented to have been transported to an approved treatment/disposal facility. Rule 1166 requires that once soil is determined to be contaminated using USEPA Method 21, or any other equivalent method, all VOC-contaminated soil must be stockpiled separately from uncontaminated soil and removed from the site within 30 days. Rule 1166 does not require a person to monitor or record the VOC concentration of soil after it is excavated and properly stored in bins. South Coast AQMD staff responded to DPH’s request for information concerning testing that may have been conducted on the binned soil. South Coast AQMD does not possess any records of additional analytical laboratory sample results of the soil contained in the 31 bins referenced in the manifest. More information regarding Rule 1166 can be found on the South Coast AQMD website: http://www.aqmd.gov/home/rules-compliance/compliance/rule-1166-site-specific-and-various-locations-soil-mitigation-plan.
Why were the 180+ bins collected and stored in the 1stplace? There were only 31 bins on-site that contained VOC-contaminated soil (soil which registers 50 parts per million (ppm) or greater using a specific measuring instrument and protocol – refer to SCAQMD Rule 1166), and those bins were transported to an approved treatment/disposal facility within 30 days. According to records from the Southern California Gas Company’s consultant*, only those 31 bins contained VOC-contaminated soil. The 180 bins were stored on-site under legal hold by the Safety and Enforcement Division (SED) of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). DPH is not aware of any other information from state regulatory agencies regarding these bins.