We have taken an active role in the prevention of toxic pollutants leaching into the sea from landfills and dump sites.

It all started with Tajiguas...

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HTO fought against the expansion of the Tajiguas Landfill beginning in 2001. The landfill is sited on the pristine Gaviota Coast and Pila Creek runs through the trash mass and out to sea. We put up a considerable fight, and all we got for our efforts was the agreement by the County Board of Supervisors that Tajiguas would close in 20 years. Tajiguas is now in the process of being expanded.

Groundwater in the Trash

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We hired geologists to study the landfill and potential leakage of pollutants to the ocean through Pila Creek. Meanwhile carefully tracking water quality at nearby streams and beaches. This chart shows groundwater infiltrating the trash mass up to 100 feet. Santa Barbara County Public Works has always taken issue with this geologic chart, because the measurements are approximate, and as the State Geologic Board explained to HTO, approximations are not allowable in studies for projects of this magnitude. In addition, the County maintains it has added efficient dewatering technology as well as energy generation.

Getting at Other Hot Spots

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As early as 2000, HTO started charting shallow groundwater pollution beneath the City of Santa Barbara, with a focus on locating the old city Landfill. Our staff looked at monitoring well data, dug through old city files and finally contacted SB County Hazmat about the issue. As a result of our work, polluted groundwater data was transferred from SB County Fire to SB County EHS and the Regional Water Quality Control Board hazardous waste division. We hired intern Sarah Treadwell to work with this Regional Boar staff to digitize the information into the State Board Geotracker, where cleanup orders and conditions are now recorded.

Getting a Grip on the Garden Street/101 Site

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HTO successfully fought for the cleanup of the former Agrichip facility at the corner of Garden Street and the 101, which we have maintained was the Santa Barbara City dump before it moved to Elings Park. After meeting with much resistance for many years, by both the City and County EHS officials, the site is now, mercifully, being cleaned up as part of a modern plaza project by the renown architect Brian Cearnal.