In a series of back-to-back meetings, the Irvine City Council has taken no further action regarding the condemnation or settlement efforts of the All American Asphalt facility. While no decision has been, staff reports indicate the cost associated with relocating the asphalt facility could range between $50-$100 million.
In its latest meeting, on October 11, the council voted to pause decision-making until a third-party counsel was selected to review options. Meanwhile, residents continue to voice frustration with the city’s lack of action. More than 30 speakers addressed the agendized settlement agreement, many urging the council to vote no on a settlement, and push for condemnation.
With three odor violations in 2022, and 1,400 odor complaints since 2019, a recently published report from the South Coast Air Quality Management District indicates that emissions produced by the facility, which produces hot mix asphalt, have not exceeded regulatory standards.
Irvine City Manager Oliver Chi explained that the city is currently considering six different options for a third-party counsel, and hopes to make that decision within the coming weeks. The settlement agreement is tied to Irvine’s 2020 public nuisance lawsuit, in which the city sued the facility over dozens of foul odor complaints.
“We have not had counsel review the settlement agreement. We’re in the process of interviewing six different firms that we’re asking to consider reviewing our overall approach in addressing AAA at this point,” Chi explained. “As it relates to the settlement agreement itself, it does constitute an agreement that provides a pathway forward that could eventually lead to the plant’s relocation.”
Detailed in the staff report, the potential relocation of the All American Asphalt facility involves two core options – relocation and condemnation. If the city chooses to relocate the facility, All American Asphalt would search for a site within 180 days. Within that timeline, the facility would be subject to strict mitigation and review, and would need to establish a 24-hour odor reporting hotline.
“It absolutely does not relocate or require AAA to close or relocate their plant, but it does lay out a timeline and a process, in which we would review,” Chi said. “An important piece of context for this discussion us AAA’s position which they continue to maintain that they are currently operating within current regulatory guidelines. They have all legal permits to exist as a business.”
Chi remained optimistic about the possibility of relocation, given the fact that All American Asphalt has continuously engaged in settlement discussions. However, the process could take roughly two years or more.
Relocation will also not come without cost.
A breakdown of estimated costs are included in staff reports associated with the AAA settlement agreement. The monetary breakdown includes the current cost of land, along with the cost of land and facility development.
“Ultimately, if the relocation process is successful, we do anticipate it could take two to three years in order for the process to be completed. The overall structure of the relocation agreement calls for the information that AAA will be developing to be back to City Council consideration before final determination is made,” he said. “It currently contemplates that relocation cost somewhere between $50 to $100 million – that’s a ballpark estimate in the cost of land.”
Condemnation of the facility is a quicker option, but could prove even more costly.
“Certainly an absolutely a more definitive and quicker process than coordinating a settlement, the condemnation process we anticipate could be completed within nine months,” Chi said. “It’s also important to note that we need to compensate AAA for the loss of business, goodwill, in addition to acquiring the dirt on which the facility sits.”
Chi reiterated that condemnation could exceed hundreds of millions. Given that the North Irvine asphalt facility is permitted to operate, Irvine would need to compensate the business for any potential revenues lost. In fact, AAA has the operational ability to produce 1.4 million tons of asphalt per year.
The current cost of asphalt is roughly $200 per-ton.
“We do anticipate condemnation would cost in excess of $100 million,” Chi said.
While the council agreed to pause on decision making until an independent counsel is selected, Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan had questions regarding the public’s input in removing the facility. Specifically, Khan was concerned that community groups were not involved in the decision making process.
“I think it would be helpful if staff is meeting with any community groups – or any groups of residents – and they are not in favor of the direction we are going in, that we are informed of that as well,” she said.
The AAA facility is now recognized as a Title V facility and is currently under a 45-day Title V permitting process from the Environmental Protection Agency.
Previously, the facility carried 18 “minor source” permits for equipment that included crushers, dry filter conveyors, storage silos and other manufacturing equipment associated with crumb rubber asphalt production.
In its Title V permit process, AAA will be limited to its existing equipment, must not make changes to output, must not have an increase in emissions and must not add new processes or air pollution control equipment to its facility, according to AQMD.
Chi anticipates obtaining the independent counsel in time for the council’s first meeting in December.
This is a developing story.
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