Bowerman Landfill Recovery Update

FRB Recovery Update

02/17/21 Update

Final repairs to the landfill liner, stormwater system and landfill gas collection system are underway or will begin the first week of March. These are the remaining, major components required to complete remediation of Bowerman Landfill following the Silverado Fire last October. The condensate sump was installed mid-February, however the thermal oxidizer remains in use to enhance gas collection. 

On February 17, 2021, the AQMD held a Variance Status Update hearing. The Board unanimously approved extending  the variance to an end date no later than 06/30/21.  



01/22/21 Update

The remediation effort continues smoothly toward completion. OCWR continues to make repairs to the damaged liner in Phase VIIIB2.  Final repairs will be made once the AQMD issues a permit to tie in the new liner to the undamaged liner.  One of the final phases is fabrication and installation of a permanent, new sump for the landfill gas collection system, replacing equipment that was destroyed in the fire. The Sump is a pumping system that manages the landfill condensate, this new sump will provide increased gas flow to the plant.

While staff makes great strides in bringing all systems back to 100% operations, we continue to enhance current landfill gas collection efforts by utilizing the Thermal Oxidizer.

 In December, the AQMD approved a variance addressing OCWR’s ability to control emissions as repairs are made to the landfill gas collection system. The variance extends through June 2021. There is an update/status hearing set for February 17, 2021.



12/18/20 Update

The landfill re-opened November 30, as significant progress in restoring the site was achieved ahead of schedule. The flares are operational, and the gas collection system is restored to 80 percent of pre-fire capacity.  We continue to use a thermal oxidizer to supplement gas collection until the permanent repairs to the landfill gas collection system are completed.

On December 17, the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s Hearing Board held a formal hearing regarding a variance request made by OCWR. The variance specifically responds to the landfill’s ability to control emissions as repairs are made to the landfill gas collection system. After several hours of testimony by County staff and questions posed to them, as well as comments by residents, the AQMD Hearing Board approved the variance, which extends through June 30, 2021. OCWR will return to the Board on February 17, 2021 for a status hearing. 

Ongoing remediation and Good Neighbor activities: 

  • Community air monitoring will continue through January 2021.
  • Repair of Phase VIIIB liner scheduled to commence in January 2021 (Pending Regulatory Approval).
  • Construction of permanent misting system scheduled; to be completed end of January 2021.


12/3/20 Update

12:45 p.m. Update

To provide staff a buffer of daylight visibility to safely close FRB this evening, Frank R. Bowerman (FRB) Landfill will close down to all traffic one hour early at 4 p.m.  today. We plan to reopen with normal hours tomorrow morning. Operations at Olinda Alpha and Prima remain unchanged. The fire is current uncontained and FRB operation hours may change as the fire progresses. Please check back on this page or call 714-834-4000 for more updates. 


11:21 a.m. Update

Once the Bond Fire in Irvine developed, FRB landfill staff initiated Fire Watch protocol to closely monitor the conditions near the landfill site. High winds, ash and smoke will impact areas throughout Irvine in the coming days.  

At this time FRB remains open and we are monitoring evacuation orders from OCFA and the Irvine Police Department.

Residents are encouraged to follow OCFA PIO on Twitter or visit for updates.  OCWR anticipates continuing with the planned meeting this evening.


11/23 Update

Landfill operations to resume Monday, Nov. 30

As of this morning, we are ahead of schedule on the recovery effort as repairs to the landfill gas collection system have been substantially completed. All five landfill gas flares are operational. We will return to optimal levels of gas collection on Monday, November 30, 2020, with collection continuing to increase after that as we fine tune the well field over the next three to four weeks.

This milestone in the recovery effort will help mitigate the odor nuisance. However, the results of this phase may not be evident overnight. We will continue to monitor and evaluate all environmental data to assist in our improvement efforts.    

The landfill's ability to begin accepting waste again will not impact our efforts in managing the LFG system.   

Please continue to use the Neighbor Support Portal to submit questions and concerns.


11/23 Update

Frank. R. Bowerman Reopening

Our initial repair progress has exceeded the projected timeline. As of now we are projecting completion by Nov. 27 and will resume landfill operations on Nov. 30.

In addition, the power plant is on track to resume operations on Nov. 30 which will further extract landfill gas.  Over the next month we will tune the well field to optimize the performance of the landfill gas collection and control system.


11/19 Update

Chronicle of Ambient Air Monitoring

The Silverado Fire began around 6:52 a.m. on October 26, 2020, along Santiago Canyon road approximately 2 miles east of the landfill during extremely high wind conditions. The fire burned 12,466 acres in the middle of Orange County and caused enough damage to the FRB Landfill that normal operations have yet to resume. To provide information and respond to concerns from the neighboring communities, OCWR immediately initiated biweekly community meetings. Very soon after OCWR began to perform ongoing air monitoring, testing, and analysis to ensure the landfill was not a source of health concerns for the community. Below is a chronicle listing of those events:

  • On our 11/2/20 community meeting, we heard the community’s concerns with air quality as it relates to health and safety
  • On 11/3/20 we initiated neighborhood monitoring for ambient air hazards using handheld devices
  • On 11/3/20 we initiated planning for ambient air sampling
  • On 11/4/20 we contracted sampling to take place for Landfill Compliance and to review the laboratory analytical ambient air data for health and safety concerns
  • On 11/5/20 a 24-hour sampling event was started on the landfill property between the active landfill and the property boundary.
  • On 11/6/20 the 24-hour sampling concluded, and samples were sent to a certified laboratory for expedited processing.
  • On 11/10/20 the laboratory results were received and reviewed
  • On 11/12/20 the results were shared at the community meeting
  • On 11/14/20 the City of Irvine reached out with information on a study being performed by their environmental consultant group Delta.
  • On 11/16/20, OCWR engaged with a health risk assessor and toxicologist to ensure to review the ambient air data collected by the County and City’s consultant.
  • On 11/18/20, OCWR was able to provide an executive summary prepared by the toxicologist to the City of Irvine regarding OCWR’s and Group Delta’s results. This executive summary was included as an attachment to the Group Delta Report presented to the Irvine City Council.
  • Although the findings of all the toxicologists report no health hazards associated with ambient air in the community, OCWR identified the benefit of continued health risk sampling and analysis during the duration of landfill repairs and for a duration after repairs are complete.
  • The continuation health risk sampling will commence on Friday and will continue on a weekly basis through the completion of the monitoring program.
    • 24-hour collection by canisters placed in the community
  • Daily field monitoring will continue with handheld devices as initiated earlier in November.


11/16 Update

Testing Update:

· The County has been performing air quality testing on the landfill, near the landfill property boundary, and on-going air monitoring in the neighboring community.

· Our on-site tests have shown there is no immediate danger to life or health, and toxins are below the regulatory thresholds that apply to OCWR employee safety.

· As we all know it is important for testing results to compare to levels that are appropriate for short term duration and not just look at content without considering historical background air quality data or duration of an event or other contributing factors.

· We have engaged a toxicologist to analyze the data, identify appropriate reference levels, and provide further details regarding the test results which we will share with the community specifically in response to your health and safety concerns.

Operational Update:

· LFG Collection System repairs continue, previously we stated the flares were scheduled to be operational on 11/22. Today, the flares were turned on at 1 pm and have begun the process of destroying landfill gas.

· LFG repairs to the remaining collection wells will continue at a rapid progression. New estimated timeframe for the damaged collection wells to be brought online is 11/26 ahead of the 12/11 original completion date.

· Once LFG system is activated, OCWR and Powerplant will work to tune the well field to optimize collection and performance.

· To further assist the neighboring communities experiencing odors, OCWR has obtained a portable thermal oxidizer which has been brought online today and will assist with supplemental LFG extraction.

· Through well field tuning, OCWR is working with Bowerman Power to bring the power plant online to further increase landfill gas collection.


11/12 Update

On October 26, 2020 the Silverado Fire extended to the Frank R. Bowerman Landfill in Irvine and forced the temporary closure of the Landfill. The fire impacted several areas of the landfill, including damage to electrical infrastructure and portions of the LFG Collection and Control equipment. Thankfully, no customers or employees were injured as a result of this devastating fire.  

In response to the damage caused by the fire, OCWR quickly mobilized forces to make necessary repairs to damaged landfill infrastructure.  OCWR is working to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, impacts that might be felt in surrounding communities, however the shutdown of the landfill gas system creates an increasing possibility that landfill odors may be noticed in neighborhoods near the landfill.   All regulatory agencies involved with the environmental control of the landfill, including the SCAQMD, are aware of this temporary situation and have issued necessary waivers as we work seven days per week to restore the landfill to full compliance.   

Current Status of Landfill Repairs: 

  • (Completed) October 31:  All exposed wellheads or other LFG source points have been capped and staff is actively monitoring the site for new LFG emissions. 
  • (Completed) November 6: Power restored to site.  Southern California Edison crews worked to repair or replace 43 power poles and other impacted electrical infrastructure.   
  • (In Progress): Bring flare stations back online. (Estimated completion November 22) 
  • (In Progress): Complete gas collection and control system repairs. (Estimated completion December 14) 
  • (In Progress):  Coordination with Bowerman Power on resuming LFG energy production and well field tuning.   

Community Updates 

OCWR has held two online community meetings/Q+A sessions. Another is scheduled for Thursday, November 12 at 4 p.m.  You can use this link to connect to the next online session:  


Updates regarding the status of the landfill can be found on, in the News & Headlines section at the bottom of the home page.  If you have concerns or questions, please use our Neighbor Support Portal – CLICK HERE for the quickest response. 

OCWR sincerely appreciates residents’ understanding while we work to repair the landfill systems. 


Tom Koutroulis