PREFACE: Three weeks ago I registered this complaint regarding Toxic Gas Discharge from an on-going sewer project by the City of Culver City. This is a city-wide project that is ongoing. I was shocked at the lack of awareness and interest by the city and other agencies that profess to protect the quality of life and the environment. The concept of filling a home and healthcare facility resin based gaseous discharge and, additionally. exposing children on their way to school with these toxic gases should be abhorrent to those responsible for such a project. These agencies and boards saw no such urgency. I repeat that this is a major ongoing project. My purpose is to alert the residents and businesses that if this occurs in your vicinity, there are health consequences from breathing these gases and the best approach I can recommend is to call the Fire Department and request the Haz-Mat Response Team and get out your cell phone and record as much of the incident as possible. I have tried all the other avenues and the complaint was met with denial, fabrication, incompetence, and indifference, in bureaucratic style that is becoming a recurrent theme in the “New and Improved Culver City”.

​Monday, December 14, 2015​

Complaint to City of Culver City against Southwest Pipeline and Trenchless Corporation and the City of Culver City Dept. of Public Works.

Project and Company:

Work Sewer Pipe Repair Company contracted by City of Culver City perform sewer pipe repair and upgrade.

Jason Lindau - Project Manager

My Name:

Richard P. Schoenbaum, D.D.S.

4383 Overland Avenue

Culver City, CA 90230

Phone (O) (310) 837-2417

Email: richard.schoenbaum@gmail.com

Details of Complaint:

On Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 8:30AM, there was a large discharge of pungent toxic resin based gases being blown out of a sewer upgrade project behind 4385 Overland Avenue, Culver City. This toxic cloud was discharged via 3-4” exhaust conduit and blower, and propelled approximate 20 feet vertically and into the air over and around the work site. Prevailing wind carried this toxic plum approximately 175 ft. from the point of origin, The sewer manhole behind 4385 Overland.The workers had no protective equipment other than vests and hard hats. They were standing under the gas plum being blown at high volume to evacuate the sewer. There was no filtration of the gases. I consisted of a visible noxious brown column of smoke. Notice to the surrounding properties made no mention of toxic odors. I and my Office Staff for my Dental Office, and School Children on their way to school were exposed to this discharge. Speaking to the project manager 2 days later and the City of Culver City Public Works and City of Culver City Assistant Manager gave no indication that they were aware, nor would do anything other than return my call and discuss the Issue with the relevant City Departments. Based on what I have had to do for OSHA compliance in my dental office, they appeared to have no concept of a “Best Practices” approach to industrial hygiene.

The Crossing Guard at the Corner of Overland and Franklin/Farragut indicated that she had noticed the odor while crossing children that day and, previously, she had also been exposed at another crossing at Braddock and Elenda Avenues (Adjacent to the Culver City High School).

I believe this to be a continuing project by in the City of Culver City to upgrade the sewer pipe system and therefore, a continuing violation of worker safety rules. It also poses a threat to the health of the general public.The City of Culver City is negligent in their supervision of the contracted services.

My home and part of my office were contaminated significantly in the 2 hr. time these men were working, requiring heavy ventilation with fans. It was as if some one had fiberglassed a surfboard in my living room and the back part of my dental office. During the past week, I have had to sleep on the couch and been troubled by mild headaches, burning nose and eyes, and a slight intermittent cough. This has continued, with diminishing effect to the present date.

The workers were performing their tasks without benefit of protective equipment while standing under the blower and then, standing over the manhole with gases emanating passively for approximately 2 hrs.

There were 4-5 employees present and working at the site.

Work at the site was finished in 2hrs.

Fumes were noticeable in alley 4 hrs. later to a private OSHA Compliance trainer that I had schedule previously to annually train my dental staff as required by Cal-OSHA.

Your help in correcting this matter with the contractor and the City would be greatly appreciated.

                                                *******************************************

Agencies and Board with responsibility or having interest and their response:

  • On-Site Worker/Manager - Response ”We test the air quality and we have documentation”

  • CC Public Works - Had to leave a message which was responded to the next day by a project manager. No return call from any other person in authority at public works.

  • CC City Manager- Was put on hold..presumably because my frantic plea was out of the receptionist’s comfort zone. Then my detailed complaint was received and filed by the Assistant City Manager and referred to public works.

  • City of Culver City’s Project Manager- Phone Call from “Project Manager” indicated a total lack of awareness of the totally inadequate notification or the conditions at the work site or the situational awareness amount of gases being discharged, prevailing winds, proximity of structures, and children downwind of the work site.

  • CC City Council - No Response

  • CC City Attorney - Written response that included denial that there was any toxicity in the 7 foot plume of brown smoke discharged from a 4 inch conduit 15 feet in the air with no filtration and mitigation.

  • AQMD - Still waiting for an investigator to be assigned

  • OSHA - Phone contact stated they cannot act because they need to give the contractor notice. A letter was received stating that the complaint was too vague.

  • CCUSD - Board of Education - Email from the board that it was not in their jurisdiction and in the future such complaints should be directed to the City of Culver City.



If there is a moral to this story it is this, to get the attention of persons and agencies this are supposed to be the guardians of the public health, anything short of a body count is inadequate as a motivator to prompt timely action.

http://www.culvercity.org/~/media/Files/PW/CIP/CIP_2013_14.ashx

Richard P. Schoenbaum, D.D.S.

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