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Pasadena Weighs Benefits in Firm's Waste Permit Bid

June 22, 1986|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

The company proposing a controversial waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale has offered to install smog control equipment on a Pasadena municipal power plant and give the city bargain rates on trash disposal in a move that would help the company's project meet requirements for a state permit.

The offer "is a pretty good deal for the city," said Steven Broiles, attorney for Pacific Waste Management Corp. He said a draft agreement submitted to Pasadena last week includes a trash disposal rate of $5.50 per ton, $3 below what the city now pays.

Edward K. Aghjayan, deputy city manager, said the trash rate is "a very competitive figure," but other details of the offer must be analyzed and clarified.

Further Talks Planned

He said that the city staff will talk further with Pacific Waste but he would not characterize the discussions as negotiations. Instead, he said, the staff is "investigating" the offer and looking at other alternatives so that all the information will be available before the matter reaches the city Board of Directors.

Pacific Waste's application to build a waste-to-energy plant is stalled before the state Energy Commission while the company tries to comply with air pollution requirements and to show where it intends to get the 3,000 tons of trash a day it will need to supply its plant.

The proposed Pasadena agreement would help the company partially meet both the air pollution and the waste contract requirements.

An agency of the city of Irwindale in 1984 sold $395 million in tax-exempt bonds to help Pacific Waste finance the plant, but construction cannot begin without Energy Commission approval. The plant would generate electricity for sale to Southern California Edison Co.

Opposition to Plant

The proposal has aroused opposition from several cities, including neighboring Azusa, Duarte and Glendora, the Miller Brewing Co., which owns a brewery near the site, and a number of citizens groups.

Duarte Councilman John Hitt, one of the opposition leaders, said he can see why Pasadena might be intrigued by the Pacific Waste offer even though he believes that emissions from the proposed plant would degrade air quality in the San Gabriel Valley.

Hitt said that Pasadena would suffer less pollution than cities that are nearer to the plant or lie eastward in the path of prevailing winds.

Aghjayan said that Pasadena currently pays $8.50 a ton to unload trash at the Scholl Canyon landfill in Glendale, which is run by the county Sanitation Districts.

Hikes Tied to Inflation

The Pacific Waste proposal calls for a $5.50 rate that would rise over the 30-year life of the agreement only in proportion to increases in the consumer price index.

Aghjayan said that the city also must compute the cost of hauling trash, comparing costs to Irwindale with Scholl Canyon and any other location that might be available.

Pasadena's contract to use the Scholl Canyon landfill extends to 1990, Aghjayan said, and the city now is looking at what to do with its trash after that.

He said Pasadena collects about 300 tons of trash a day from households. Pasadena businesses also generate an estimated 100 tons of trash a day, but only part of that is collected by city refuse trucks, he said. Private haulers pick up the remainder.

No Contracts Signed

Broiles said Pacific Waste has not yet signed any contracts with cities or other rubbish collectors.

The Energy Commission committee assigned to hear the Irwindale case has told Pacific Waste that it must line up trash contracts now as part of the permit process.

The commission staff contends that it must know where the trash will come from in order to determine the impact of trash trucks on traffic and to analyze alternative means of disposing of the garbage.

Pacific Waste, which has asked for reconsideration of the order, says that it is impractical to obtain agreements three years before the plant can open, but that plenty of trash will be available as landfills reach capacity or shut down for other reasons.

Ruling Expected Soon

Commission hearing officer Garret Shean said the committee expects to issue a ruling on the reconsideration motion soon, perhaps within a week.

Permit proceedings before the commission already had been suspended over another issue--the inability of the project to meet air emission requirements.

Despite the use of sophisticated pollution control equipment, the proposed Irwindale plant would emit air pollutants.

However, state law would allow the plant to be built anyway if the owners could more than offset the increased pollution by paying for other air pollution reductions.

Obtaining Offset Credits

These so-called offset credits can be bought from companies that have shut down pollution-causing plants or can be acquired by installing pollution control devices exceeding legal requirements.

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