SUNSHINE MERGER BACKED SUPERVISORS VOTE TO CREATE GRANADA HILLS MEGADUMP.
Byline: TROY ANDERSON Staff Writer
The San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. is on track to become home to one of the nation's largest garbage dumps after Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. County supervisors voted Tuesday to merge two Sunshine Canyon Landfill sites into a 1,528-acre megadump.
The board's 3-2 vote allows Browning-Ferris Industries Browning-Ferris Industries, or "BFI", is a licensed trademark of Allied Waste Industries, a North America waste collection company. Many local units of Allied Waste are still known as BFI in the markets they serve. to run its side-by-side dumps -- one in the unincorporated county, the other in Granada Hills -- as a single operation until 2036. Supervisors Michael D. Antonovich Michael Dennis Antonovich (born 1939 in Los Angeles, California) is a member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors representing the Fifth District, which covers northern Los Angeles County, the Antelope, Santa Clarita, Pasadena, and parts of the San Fernando and San and Zev Yaroslavsky Zev Yaroslavsky (born December 21, 1948) is a Los Angeles County politician. He served on the Los Angeles City Council from 1975 until 1994, when he was elected to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. He was preceded in both offices by Edmund D. Edelman. , who both represent the Valley, cast the dissenting votes.
Under the controversial deal, the county will receive $65 million in fees to pay for environmental and recycling programs and to address traffic concerns. More stringent environmental, monitoring and reporting conditions also will be imposed.
But the plan -- which now heads to the City Council for approval -- drew outraged protests from longtime critics, who decried the lack of a cap on capacity and the length of the operating contract.
``As far as I'm concerned, it's one more time they've shafted the community,'' said Wayde Hunter, president of the North Valley Coalition, which has opposed the deal and advocates closing the landfill much earlier.
``It's pretty typical of the Board of Supervisors. They have no compassion for anybody.''
Jan Chatten-Brown, an attorney who represents the North Valley Coalition, the Teamsters Union Teamsters Union, U.S. labor union formed in 1903 by the amalgamation of the Team Drivers International Union and the Teamsters National Union. Its full name is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen, and Helpers of America (IBT). and state and national environmental groups, noted that BFI BFI - brute force and ignorance could dump as much as 147 million tons of trash at the site -- far more than the 90 million tons approved in the early 1990s -- unless a cap is imposed.
``That is far in excess of what was represented to the community when this was previously approved,'' Chatten-Brown said.
Greg Loughnane, BFI's district manager, said the 147-million-ton figure is merely an estimate and that the landfill has always had approval to reach a certain elevation, not a maximum tonnage.
BFI had argued that merging the sites would help it run the landfill more efficiently with a single set of equipment and governing rules and a single daily disposal area.
``We are pleased that they saw things the way we did in creating a positive -- not only in terms of a more efficient landfill, but a positive for the community in terms of the benefits described, including $60 million for the community and environmental programs,'' Loughnane said.
Chatten-Brown did praise some of the provisions imposed -- including more stringent environmental conditions and alternative fuel vehicles Alternative fuel vehicle
Conventional fuels such as gasoline and diesel are gradually being replaced by alternative fuels such as gaseous fuels (natural gas and propane), alcohol (methanol and ethanol), and hydrogen. -- as ``major, major victories that frankly would never have happened if there hadn't been broad coalition support.''
Although city and county officials have long anticipated that the two landfills would be merged, the county Planning Commission Noun 1. planning commission - a commission delegated to propose plans for future activities and developments
commission, committee - a special group delegated to consider some matter; "a committee is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours" - Milton Berle in November rejected the plan. Members cited concerns about traffic from trash trucks, the shortage of recycling facilities and the lack of a guaranteed closure date.
BFI appealed to the supervisors.
At the time, Granada Hills activists said the plan would eliminate some of the strict requirements imposed by the city, and they wanted a guarantee that the landfill would close in 2016 and that a long-term insurance plan be put in place in case the landfill leaks in the future.
In a letter read to the supervisors, U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman Bradley J. "Brad" Sherman (born October 24 1954) is an American politician. He has been a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives since 1997, representing California's At-large congressional district. , D-Sherman Oaks, noted that the landfill is located near the California Aqueduct The California Aqueduct is a 444 mile (715 km)-long aqueduct in the United States that carries water from Northern California to Southern California. , which supplies most of the water in Southern California Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region, , and two major earthquake faults.
``The possibility of a landfill failure is very real and will have disastrous public health consequences,'' Sherman wrote. ``In the San Fernando Valley, cleanup costs could easily exceed $100 million.''
Sherman said insurance should be maintained on the landfill beyond 30 years and he's requested the U.S. Government Accountability Office The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of the United States Congress, and thus an agency in the Legislative Branch of the United States Government. to determine the risk taxpayers could face if a large earthquake were to rupture the landfill's liners, polluting Southern California's water supply.
Residents near the landfill have long complained about leaky leak·y
adj. leak·i·er, leak·i·est
Permitting leaks or leakage: a leaky roof; a leaky defense system.
Adj. 1. liners and blowing trash. Some believe they have contracted cancer and respiratory ailments from pollutants in the air and water.
In a letter read to the supervisors, North Valley Coalition member Mary Edwards wrote that she has fought the expansion of the landfill for decades, but has contracted bone cancer. ``I naively thought that no one would site a giant landfill next to the largest water supply in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. ,'' Edwards wrote. ``I never believed a corporation could influence those I believed were thoughtful elected officials who would never approve such a project.
``I soon found out the bottom line of the corporation and that it would be aggressively pursued at the expense of our community.''
Hunter, president of the coalition, said merging the dumps raises other safety concerns.
``The county liner is leaking,'' Hunter said. ``That bridge area was the one way to detect that leakage. Now they will cover it up with trash, so finally all of any leakage coming down will end up in the city first.''
County sources said they believed the three other supervisors voted for the plan because they have landfills in their own districts and recognize the need for more landfill space in the county and the potential expense of various other options under consideration.
But Antonovich said Valley residents have been promised in the past that the landfill will eventually close and other options will be sought to deal with the region's trash.
``They are justifiably alarmed over the high levels of cancer rates some neighborhoods have had,'' Antonovich said. ``Furthermore, they are quite frustrated over the false assurances given from time to time over the last 48 years. Having some time frame for its closure is important.''