Memos on the Air Quality in Port Hueneme

By Tom Dunn

Below are two memos Robert Bromber wrote to describe what is going on with the smelly air situation and how and where it is headed.  It may be a little technical but shows what we are up against in finding a solution(s) to the smelly air.  There is a community meeting in the future, after the November elections, as new people, city officials,  may be involved and need to be at a community meeting along with our technical team and other professionals to properly address and answer questions with the best possible info available.  There are a lot of bases that need to be involved and money found to do the right job in solving the air quality in Port Hueneme and Oxnard.  To put in layman terms the Wastewater Plant needs to be replaced and the New Indy Plant needs to verify what they are emitting.  Both plants will be monitored by the sensors Robert speaks about.  Also, there is a plastic plant in the same general area that may be involved. 

I am going to meet with the Port Hueneme rep at the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, Mike Villegas, to discuss your incidents calls and post on Next Door.  I have forwarded him about 100 post from all of you so he can see what we are having to live with. I know it is hard to ask for your patience, but it is going to take time for the Wastewater Plant to be fixed properly, however the New Indy Plant may be able to be fixed if needed within a reasonable time frame. If anyone knows how to eliminate odors from entering our home let us know.

Thanks to Robert for his hard work and diligence for the past two years since he started working on the wastewater plant issues and the added ones that have recently appeared.  Your support, alertness, concern and help is greatly appreciated in working to find a resolution to the smelly air.  Robert, myself and the others we have recruited so far thank you.

Robert Bromber Memo #1 

“Attached is a proposal that was shared with the City of Oxnard, City of Port Hueneme, and the New-Indy Containerboard company in August. After  a number of face-to-face meetings and number of email exchanges, a meeting was held on September 25 where all the aforementioned parties agreed our proposal was in the best interest of all parties. The primary reasons: it is a system that monitors around the clock, the data are maintained by a neutral third party, that data will be available to the general public via App, the data are accurate enough that it can’t be ignored by regulators, and, best of all, it specifically identifies the pollutant and the source.

This project is a slight departure from the Foundation’s primary mission: replace the Oxnard Wastewater Treatment Facility. This new project may help achieve our goal. The Foundation’s Board, and our volunteers, know full-well that the solution is not local. Neither of the local municipalities, nor the County of Ventura, nor the State of California are fiscally capable of providing the monies, or the political will, to resolve the matter. Our plan is to form a partnership between the City of Oxnard, private industry, academia, and the Federal Government to obtain adequate grant monies to turn our wastewater treatment disaster into a modern (odor-free) facility that stops the discharge of treated waters into the ocean, will be almost energy-independent,  will accommodate projected population growth, and, best of all, replenish our depleted aquafers as well as stopping salt water incursion. We cannot continue to repair a failed system that is an imminent threat to public health and safety. 

Our program is not based on hope. Plants already exist using the new technology. The research has been dome and there are achievable solutions. The Foundation is fortunate enough to get major help from Stanford University, UCLA, and CSUCI. One of the industry leaders in the new technology, Suez, is providing technical advice in planning, The the Public Works Department of City of Oxnard is aware of our efforts and understands that we share the same goal: resolution. 

The regulatory monitoring of the plants are mainly acquired from self-reporting. The regulators come on a schedule basis and, apart from responses to citizen complaints, they only test a few times a year. Resetting the standards is nigh impossible. That said, we have other avenues that we are pursuing that resonate at government levels: national security, water security, environmental stewardship, environmental justice, and quality of life.”

Robert Bromber Memo #2

“The sensors project and installation is not connected to either City nor any other potential or current polluter. That said, the City of Oxnard already committed to providing space for our base station. That unit requires power, and an elevated structure to, to effectively link all the sensors. Something important to remember, the City of Port Hueneme is the same as us: they are a customer of the City of Oxnard. The only part they play in this scheme is wastewater collection. Their collection system, like Oxnard’s, is also dated and in some instances failing. There is a possibility that their system, may occasionally, be a source of some of the localized neighborhood smells. Our sensor system may help when those events occur. The Foundation will start a capital drive late-November when we have a firm quote on the system. We will be testing sensors throughout October and November to determine the best system. 

The money from the State you mentioned ,$9.5m, is strictly a band-aid. It will go toward some of the worst of many major problems. It by no means is a fix. It will not be used for any of the new technology. 

In reality, the only thing that solves our dilemma is complete replacement of the plant. That carries a price tag between 400 and 500 million and must be phased as you can’t just bulldoze the plant and build new. The sewage doesn’t stop.

If you see any media, it is clear we are in a highly-charged political season. Whether we like it ot not, moving any initiative forward between now and November 6 doesn’t stand a chance. However, Senator Hannah Beth Jackson, just last week promised to help when we route our initiatives through the incoming City Oxnard Council and Mayor. We are laying the groundwork to do just that. In the meantime, we will be presenting our current findings, design plans, and approximate construction costs to Oxnard Public Works for a new facility. With their blessing and assistance, we will attempt to get the City to buy in, and then chase State and Federal monies to implement through direct lobbying, The Foundation cannot build the plant. However, it is our goal to make it possible for the City of Oxnard to do that. 

The foundation will be updating our website ( and establishing presences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to better alert or communicate with our neighbors. Ms Rachel Richardson ([email protected]) is our point person. Feel free to contact her with any suggestions or questions.”


Tom Dunn is a Port Hueneme resident who is publisher of Port Hueneme News, a digital newspaper (facebook @huenemenews)  and host of  “Hello Port Hueneme” a video interview show about people, places and things in Port Hueneme.

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