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Trash Firm to Appeal Deadline of State Panel

February 20, 1986|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

Pacific Waste Management Corp. has decided to appeal a state Energy Commission order that set a March 31 deadline for the company to line up commitments from trash haulers to supply trash for its proposed waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale.

Pacific Waste attorney Steven A. Broiles said the trash contract requirement cannot be met and is "excessive and unreasonable."

If the commission holds to the deadline established by its siting committee, Pacific Waste will be faced with the choice of having its application to build the plant rejected, accepting an indefinite delay in permit proceedings or taking the issue to court, Broiles said.

The deadline is contained in an order adopted by the siting committee, which is hearing Pacific Waste's application to build a plant to burn 3,000 tons of trash a day, creating 73 megawatts of power for sale to Southern California Edison Co. The schedule lists a series of deadlines leading to a commission decision on the project by Feb. 18, 1987.

Broiles said Pacific Waste has several objections to the schedule, but its main concern is with the trash contract deadline.

Cannot Fully Analyze

Terry O'Brien, project manager for the Energy Commission, said the commission staff cannot fully analyze the Irwindale project unless it knows the source of the trash that will be burned.

For example, he said, the traffic impact from trucks hauling trash to the plant cannot be studied without knowing where the trucks will be coming from.

And, unless the source of the trash is identified, he said, the staff cannot determine if there might be a better location for the waste-to-energy plant or if there might be a better waste disposal method.

O'Brien said the staff cannot recommend a power project unless there is a reliable supply of fuel, in this case trash, to generate electricity.

Pacific Waste officials say they are confident that there will be more than enough trash for the plant, considering the dwindling capacity of dumps in the area. But Broiles said Pacific Waste cannot obtain commitments now because the opening of the plant is at least three years away and the prospect of obtaining permits from regulatory agencies is uncertain.

He said operators of waste-to-energy plants are required by state law to have waste supply contracts on file 120 days before a plant opens. It is not necessary to go beyond that requirement, he said.

Pacific Waste officials have contended that the project can be analyzed on the assumption that the waste will come from somewhere in the San Gabriel Valley.

The committee order instructs Pacific Waste to obtain commitments for 75% of the trash needed for the plant by March 31 and the remainder by June 15.

Can Reject Schedule

Pacific Waste can reject the new schedule and insist that the Energy Commission decide its permit application by May 28 under a state law that requires the commission to rule on applications a year after they are submitted unless the applicant agrees to an extension. But, Pacific Waste officials acknowledge that their project would surely be rejected on grounds of inadequate information if the commission were forced to make a decision by May 28.

Broiles said an appeal of the scheduling deadlines will be filed with the commission by Friday. The siting committee that approved the schedule is composed of two of the five state energy commissioners. The appeal will go to the full commission.

Meanwhile, the commission's siting committee will conduct a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Irwindale City Hall on another issue that could suspend proceedings on the permit application.

Miller Brewing Co., which owns a brewery near the site of the proposed waste-to-energy plant and is fighting the project, has asked the commission to suspend proceedings because the project developers have withheld information.

Canadian Corporation

Miller attorney Terry O. Kelly said the commission's siting committee issued an order last June requiring Pacific Waste to give Miller information about the project, such as how the site was selected and how decisions were made to proceed. But, he said, many of the documents are in possession of Pacific Waste's parent corporation, Conversion Industries Inc., a Canadian holding corporation that claims to be beyond the jurisdiction of the Energy Commission's orders.

Legal papers filed with the commission by Kelly urge the state to suspend proceedings to force the project developers to release the documents. "The commission cannot permit an applicant to set up a foreign holding company . . . and then claim that the records relating to the commission filings for the project are beyond the range of discovery," the papers say.

But Broiles said Pacific Waste has refused to produce the documents not because it is trying to conceal facts but because it also wants Miller Brewing Co. to disclose information.

Will Ask Information

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