Duarte Asks United Front on Waste Plants

January 12, 1986|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

City of Duarte officials are trying to persuade other San Gabriel Valley cities to take legal steps to ensure that garbage from their communities can never be taken to waste-to-energy plants for disposal without city permission.

Duarte City Manager J. Kenneth Caresio said this action would give cities the means to prevent such plants from being built.

The proposal, discussed at a meeting last week by officials of 15 cities, drew mixed reactions. One mayor called the plan a "subterfuge" to prevent construction of the plants, while another backed the idea.

An ordinance adopted Dec. 30 by the Duarte City Council says its waste disposal contractor "shall not deliver the refuse (collected in the city) to any waste-to-energy conversion facility unless specifically approved in advance by the City Council."

Companies Select Site

Although a few cities, including Pomona, Pasadena and Claremont, pick up trash themselves, most area cities contract with disposal companies that have the power to decide where the trash is hauled.

Walnut Mayor Charles Richardson, whose city has endorsed a waste-to-energy plant planned at the Spadra landfill in Pomona, characterized the proposal as a "subterfuge" to prevent construction of waste incinerators.

Instead of erecting stumbling blocks, Richardson said, cities should simply make sure that state and regional regulatory agencies "do the very best job they can" in deciding whether waste-to-energy plants should be built.

But Monrovia Mayor Paul Stuart, an outspoken opponent of a trash burning plant proposed in Irwindale, said, "I don't share (Richardson's) complete trust and faith in higher levels of government." Stuart said cities must exert local control because waste burners pose a potential health hazard.

Duarte Called Meeting

Stuart said Monrovia's city staff is negotiating with its waste disposal contractor to give the city the power to decide where trash is hauled.

Richardson and Stuart were among mayors, councilmen and staff members who attended the meeting called by Duarte officials.

West Covina Mayor Forest Tennant, who has organized resident opposition to waste-to-energy plants in the San Gabriel Valley, could not attend the meeting but endorsed the Duarte proposal.

"I think it's a viable strategy," he said, adding that the next time West Covina awards a contract for garbage collection, in about two years, he expects the contract to specify where the trash can be hauled. Tennant said there is no need for the city to act immediately because waste-to-energy plants have yet to be built in the San Gabriel Valley.

Several Plants Planned

Duarte officials have been among the leaders in fighting a proposal by Pacific Waste Management Corp. to build a trash-to-energy plant in nearby Irwindale. Three other plants have been proposed in the San Gabriel Valley. The county Sanitation Districts plan to construct plants at the Spadra and Puente Hills landfills. Azusa Energy Systems Inc. hopes to build a plant at an Azusa landfill, although the Azusa City Council turned down a conditional use permit for the project last week.

Duarte's Caresio told the group that the state Energy Commission, which will decide whether to license the Irwindale plant, may reject the application if trash for the plant is unavailable in the San Gabriel Valley. The plant would burn 3,000 tons of trash a day. About 40,000 tons of trash a day is generated countywide.

The commission's staff has recommended that work on Pacific Waste Management's application for a construction permit be suspended until the company lines up waste contracts and submits more information on its proposed pollution control system. The company said it is working on the pollution control data and that even though it has been unable to line up commitments from cities or private haulers to supply trash, there will be plenty of garbage available as dumps fill up.

Legal Liability

Glendora Councilwoman Lois Shade said her city is on record against construction of more waste-to-energy plants until environmental reports are in from the county's first plant, which is being built in the City of Commerce. But Shade said she has reservations about Duarte's proposal because the city might incur legal liability in assuming control over trash.

Thomas Wetherill, vice president of Pacific Waste, said the liability issue may discourage a number of cities from following Duarte's example.

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