Letter: Update from Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach


On Oct. 22, the California Regional Water Quality Boards and the California Coastal Commission determined that Providence Mission Hospital Laguna Beach had thoroughly and properly completed the remediation on Totuava Beach.

The agencies also approved our Removal Action Plan, which allows us to begin the process of removing the contaminated sand and rebuilding the site with fresh sand and vegetation. The Coastal Commission granted an emergent permit to allow this important work to begin.

Given that Totuava Beach is only accessible by water, we will be using landing craft to transport the contaminated sand from the beach to a barge located just off the coast. The barge will then transport the contaminated sand to a location where it will be properly disposed of. The removal of the contaminated sand must be carefully coordinated based on weather and tide conditions. We expect to begin removal on Nov. 4, 2021, or sooner.

Replacement sand was ordered several weeks ago and unfortunately, has been delayed due to transportation disruptions. We are expecting the replacement sand to be delivered by Friday, Nov. 5, 2021 or sooner.

Once replacement sand is received, it will be placed on a barge and transported to the beach via landing craft. This replenishment process will be supervised by an on-site licensed geologist. Equipment and supplies will promptly be removed following sand replenishment, and a sand berm created to protect the site area from high tide will also be removed.

In addition to the California Regional Water Quality Boards and the California Coastal Commission, we want to thank the following partners for lending their support and expertise throughout the remediation: Laguna Beach Fire Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Coast Guard and Orange County Health Care Agency.

At this time, the root cause of the diesel leak is not clear, however, we believe the fuel was contaminated, causing the failure of the same devices. The contaminated diesel may have been part of a 2,800-gallon delivery we received in June 2021. We have taken that generator out of service and continue to use a temporary generator. Our third-party investigation contractor continues to investigate and determine the root cause of the malfunction.

To make sure the fuel tank does not leak again, we began an emergent redesign of the attenuation housing and day tank controls. This new design also includes the construction of a safety berm around the generator housing site. This is in progress; we are awaiting the required permitting through our state agency, the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

We recognize that city staff and members of the City Council likely fielded a variety of questions about this diesel leak from concerned community members, and for that we apologize. We are devastated that a second leak occurred and impacted our coastal community. While our data confirms that a limited amount of diesel was released, we also owe an apology to the community. Like everyone in Laguna Beach, we treasure our coastline and are committed to a thorough cleanup.

Seth Teigen, Chief Executive of Mission Hospital

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  1. Hey Seth?
    Why didn’t the hospital have a containment device in place last year to begin with, there’re Cal Health & Safety Codes that you didn’t comply with then and still don’t.
    Why didn’t you at minimum learn from last year’s “boo-boo,” and install a temporary portable device (berm/dam/small inflatable pool), within a week or two back then, have it in place, avoiding this one?
    As I commented a few weeks ago, an online search reveals such heavy mil (thick) portables that can hold 3-500 gallons are about $1,000.
    You do NOT need a permit to install such a device, I’m in a related field professionally and confirmed it online.
    “Still waiting, still investigating, emergent redesign” are such totally lame excuses and explanations for not immediately guaranteeing us another drop won’t reach our storm drain system and coast.
    So one of YOUR root problems is not understanding that we’re pretty savvy, not country bumpkins, slick corporate PR jive or not.
    No backup devices means that the hospital has a trend of questionable site management practices, and an apology after the fact is kinda weak.
    And your explanations and stall tactics aren’t very reassuring, actually quite disturbing.


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