Unable to reach an agreement on price with a Santa Barbara County landfill, the contractor for the McColl hazardous waste cleanup today is asking three other Southern California facilities to submit competitive bids for storing the World War II refinery sludge from Fullerton.
The Casmalia Resources landfill--originally intended to receive the waste--will be invited to bid again, but Rep. William Dannemeyer (R-Fullerton) said Monday that the best informal offer appears to be from a dump in Buttonwillow, 35 miles west of Bakersfield.
Bids will be opened sometime next week, said Steve Viani, McColl project officer for the state Department of Health Services, which is conducting the $26-million-plus cleanup.
The state and its contractor, Canonie Engineers of Chesterton, Ind., have been unable to reach an agreement with Casmalia Resources since the federal Environmental Protection Agency decided in January that the dump site receiving McColl waste would be required to construct a double-lined vault to guard against ground-water contamination.
Originally, Casmalia had agreed to accept the 200,000 tons of McColl waste for $30 a ton, but its most recent verbal offer was $140 a ton, officials have said.
Began Looking Around
State health officials began informally scouting other landfills for the McColl waste in February, when the Casmalia landfill owner began to appear reluctant.
The rebidding will put all the qualified landfills on even footing for the contract, Viani said.
"This is the time to clear the air. Everybody now starts from a common point," he said.
Dannemeyer said operators of the Pretroleum Waste Inc. landfill in Buttonwillow have indicated they will accept the McColl waste for about $30 a ton. Viani concurred that Petroleum Waste is "talking the best total package."
Tom Donovan, Canonie's project manager for the McColl project, said that if the Buttonwillow facility submits the winning bid, excavation of the McColl waste could begin in four to six weeks.
But the change in plans would not mean a delay, he said. Actually, if Casmalia were to win the bidding, excavation could not begin as quickly, he said. The Buttonwillow landfill is graded and ready for the construction of the EPA-required double-lined vault, whereas Casmalia is not, Donovan said.
What's more, the city and county of Santa Barbara are asking a Superior Court judge to block the trucking of McColl waste to Casmalia until an environmental impact report is prepared. The judge will consider the request at a later hearing, but on Friday he rejected a deputy state attorney general's arguments that the Santa Barbara lawsuit should be thrown out of court.
Originally, the McColl cleanup was to cost $21.5 million, with 90% of the funding coming from the EPA. However, the EPA decision to require the double-lined vault is expected to add about $5 million to the cost.
Four landfills now are being asked to name their price for building the vault and storing the waste. In addition to Casmalia Resources and Petroleum Waste Inc., landfills operated by Chemical Waste Management, in Kettleman Hills, and IT Corp. in the Imperial Valley are being asked to bid.
More Checking Needed
Viani said state officials are not certain the IT Corp. facility has the proper permits to receive the McColl waste, but that will be determined within the next week, he said.
Both the Casmalia and Kettleman Hills landfills were in the running for the McColl project when the McColl excavation contract went out to bid in December, 1983. The Buttonwillow facility did not have the necessary permits then to receive the waste, Viani said.
If Buttonwillow or the IT Corp. landfill is selected, the McColl transportation safety plan--now written for Casmalia, with Kettleman Hills as an alternative site--will have to be amended, Viani said.
Dannemeyer called a meeting Monday of 14 people, representing Santa Barbara County, Casmalia, the state health department, EPA, Fullerton and two railroad companies to discuss whether the McColl waste could be shipped to Casmalia by train. It appears to be too expensive, Dannemeyer said.
While the rail plan would have circumvented Santa Barbara County officials' concerns about trucking the waste on their roads, the transportation costs would have quadrupled, Dannemeyer said.
"So it looks to me like the possibility of selecting another site (landfill) is a little more attractive than pursuing the rail alternative," Dannemeyer said.
Asked if rebidding the landfill portion of the project might not prompt Casmalia to lower its price, Viani said, "The thought did cross our mind."
Said Dannemeyer: "When you have a monopoly, you can charge anything you want . . . . (The competitive bidding) is something Casmalia has to think about."
Ken Hunter Jr., Casmalia's general partner, could not be reached for comment Monday. However, spokeswoman Jan Lachenmaier said the $140-per-ton price "is directly from our price schedule. It's not directed at the McColl project." She said she did not know whether the company would revise its price.