ARCADIA — BKK Corp. has begun seeking official approval to run a landfill at a sand and gravel quarry here under a plan that would fill the quarry with dirt, cement, asphalt and other inert materials.
The 80-acre quarry is at Lower Azusa Road and the San Gabriel River at the southeastern corner of Arcadia. No Arcadia homes would be affected, but the site is bordered on its western and southern sides by homes in El Monte.
Len Therrien, assistant administrative officer in El Monte, said several residents have expressed concerns about truck traffic and the kinds of materials the dump might accept. Therrien said people are alarmed because BKK Corp. runs a controversial dump in West Covina that formerly accepted toxic waste. Methane and vinyl chloride gases leaked out of the dump last year, forcing the evacuation of 19 homes.
Proposal Is 'Benign'
Ernest Winter, spokesman for BKK Corp., said the proposed Arcadia landfill would not accept garbage, household trash, toxic waste or anything but dirt, rocks, cement and other materials that do not decompose. The proposal is so "benign," in fact, that it is more properly called a land reclamation project than a landfill, he said.
Winter said the object is to fill in the quarry so that the owner, Rodeffer Investments of Fountain Valley, can build a business park. BKK Corp. would run the landfill under a 10-year agreement with Rodeffer.
Thomas Walsh, a leader of Communities Against Dumping in Residential Environments, a regional organization that opposes dumps and waste-to-energy plants in populated areas, said residents near the quarry have asked the group to fight the project. Walsh said residents fear that once the landfill is established, the operators might seek permission to accept household refuse.
"Impossible," Winter said. "There are no plans to do that and the geology precludes that possibility," he said, alluding to the porous soil that would allow trash to contaminate ground water.
No Water Contamination
Winter said the project will require a land use permit from the city of Arcadia and must meet waste discharge requirements of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board. Dennis Dasker, senior engineer with the water board, said that as long as only inert materials are accepted, there should be no danger to area ground water.
The proposed landfill is included in a revised solid-waste management plan that is being reviewed by all the cities in the county. The plan must be approved by half the county's cities representing at least half the total population. But failure of the regional plan would not necessarily stop the Arcadia project, Winter said, because at least some lawyers think the limited landfill proposed for Arcadia is outside the plan's required scope.
Chet Howard, director of public works for Arcadia, said an environmental impact report addressing such problems as traffic and the protection of air and water quality, must be filed before the Arcadia City Council can issue a permit. He said the quarry, which has been in operation since the 1960s and is nearly depleted, is 75 to 80 feet deep and the bottom of the pit is filled with water.
Howard said the owner has always planned to fill the pit so that the property could be developed. "As it stands now, we've got a large empty pit there, and I think it behooves everybody to get it back-filled," he said.
Begin Within Six Months
Kenneth Kazarian, president of BKK Corp., said he hopes the landfill operations can begin in six months to a year. "Once people understand what we're doing, there should be no problem for anyone," he said.
Kazarian said filling the pit would permit development of the land, creating new tax revenue for Arcadia. And Winter said the proposal would have the regional benefit of easing the county's landfill shortage.
West Covina Mayor Forest Tennant Jr., who has been leading a fight against construction of waste incinerators in the San Gabriel Valley, said he originally opposed the Arcadia landfill because he thought it was going to accept municipal refuse. He said he has since learned that only cement and dirt will be dumped there and "at this time, I can support it."
Although West Covina and BKK Corp. have sometimes been at odds over the company's West Covina dump, Tennant said, "I can't think of anyone better to run this quarry reclamation project." Tennant said BKK's problems in West Covina have arisen because homes were built near the dump, not because the dump was poorly run.