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BFI SEEKS DOUBLE-DUMP PRIVILEGES.

Byline: Beth Barrett Staff Writer

GRANADA HILLS - Operators of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill have delayed groundbreaking for the massive expansion into Granada Hills while they seek approval to dump all their trash in either the city or county portion on any given day.

The plan sparked new controversy among North San Fernando Valley community groups that unsuccessfully fought to block City Council approval of the expansion and fear the double-dumping will mean twice as much dust, debris and foul odors invading their homes and schools.

The city allowed Browning Ferris Industries of California to dump 5,500 tons of trash daily in the Granada Hills part of the dump in addition to the 6,600 tons the county allows in its portion.

But BFI wants permission to put all 12,100 tons in one place on any given day.

A little-noticed provision approved by the city would allow such a practice, but BFI needs approval from the county's Regional Planning Commission, which can act without the issue going to the Board of Supervisors unless there is an appeal.

``They're doing an end-run really to get started on upping their daily flow,'' said Mary Edwards, spokeswoman for North Valley Coalition, a residents' group opposing the dump.

North Valley Coalition President Wayde Hunter said BFI is trying to ``get an early leg up'' on expanding its capacity before the joint city- county landfill is approved.

``They're trying to get a jump on it by upping the county tonnage before the city even opens,'' Hunter said.

BFI General Manager Dave Edwards said the company is not trying to take a shortcut to increase capacity, but rather needs the county permit change to make it consistent with the city's 1999 zone change, which granted BFI a 12,100-ton daily maximum once the county and city join their operations.

``The intent by both agencies was that Sunshine would be a joint city- county landfill,'' said Edwards, who is not related to Mary Edwards.

BFI officials have mounted a media campaign, saying the county is facing a trash-disposal crisis as landfills in the county begin to close, and that Sunshine Canyon, ``tucked away in an isolated northwest canyon of the San Fernando Valley,'' is the solution for years to come, according to Thursday ads in the Daily News and another local newspaper.

BFI District Manager James Ambroso said asking for the increase of capacity at Sunshine is being done ``purely out of need.''

``The Los Angeles area is going to be in desperate need for additional capacity as area landfills are filling up,'' Ambroso said.

Mary Edwards said residents who live within a mile of Sunshine Canyon disagree that the landfill is ``isolated,'' calling it a nuisance that shouldn't be expanded to 415 acres and 90 million tons.

County Supervisor Mike Antonovich, a longtime opponent of the urban landfill, said he will oppose changing the permit to increase the amount of trash that can be dumped at Sunshine.

``BFI is currently requesting approval through the county of Los Angeles to double the amount of garbage that can be dumped into the existing landfill,'' Antonovich said in a statement.

``As a longtime opponent of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, I am adamantly opposed to this expansion. The residents who live near this landfill currently face threats to their water supply and air quality. Any increase in trash dumped in this landfill will exacerbate the burden faced by these residents. This proposal should be rejected by the Board of Supervisors and the county Planning Commission.''

City Councilman Hal Bernson, who represents the residents near the dump and who has long opposed the expansion, said he will evaluate the county action and, if there any inconsistencies with what the city approved, he may seek to have the new council reconsider the 1999 zone change, or urge legal action.

``This may reopen the whole issue,'' Bernson said.

Mayor James Hahn, who campaigned in opposition to Sunshine Canyon, saying the city should not operate landfills in urban areas, did not return calls for comment.

The proposed change to the county permit probably would not be allowed to be enacted unilaterally, and would require combining the county and city operations to take effect, said Frank Meneses, county supervising regional planner.

If such a joint agreement isn't reached, the county limit of 6,600 tons per day would continue to apply, Meneses added.

``We're trying to protect ourselves,'' Meneses said. ``If the city operation doesn't continue, then the discussion is of reverting back to what we have now (6,600-ton daily maximum). We don't want 12,100 tons (a day) going into the county only. That would defeat the board's previous mandate that the city carry its fair share.''

There is a long way to go yet, however, before the city and county agree to a joint operation, and BFI officials said they don't plan to begin operating on the city side until those details are worked out. BFI officials earlier had anticipated breaking ground within the city this month.

Both a memorandum of understanding - detailing how revenues would be split, among other details - and a joint powers agreement creating the oversight local enforcement agency need to be drafted and approved by the appropriate city, county and state agencies.

County and city officials responsible for those documents said work has barely begun on them.

North Valley Coalition spokeswoman Edwards said it is only now that residents are starting to get a picture of how BFI intends to go about getting its permits, saying many of those details were unclear when the City Council approved its zone change in December 1999.

She said that if the terms of operating a joint facility are approved by the city and county, and the joint local enforcement agency is approved by the state Integrated Waste Management Board, neighbors will have no protection from all 12,100 tons per day being dumped on the city side, near their homes.

Increased dust, garbage and other kinds of pollution are anticipated, Edwards said, particularly since the city has already approved - and the county is being asked to approve - a doubling of the open face where the garbage is handled, or up to 10 acres.

``We were afraid the 12,100 tons a day would end up on our side, but we couldn't find out,'' Edwards said. ``We kept asking, Are you going to get new permits? They never explained the procedure. But we were pretty sure they were going to stuff everything into that hole they could get into it.''

BFI's Dave Edwards said the ability to dump all the day's trash in one location and on a larger face is necessary to give the operators flexibility. He added the company will do whatever it can to be good neighbors with the community.

City officials said they could not explain why the city didn't set a stricter limit on how much trash could be dumped on the city side on any given day once the city and county operations were joined.

``That was what was sought in the land use entitlement; that was what was considered in the EIR (environmental impact report); that's the decision the council made,'' said Wayne Tsuda, director of the city's local enforcement agency program, with the Environmental Affairs Department.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Jul 21, 2001
Words:1220
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