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Illegal Dump Costly to Forest Lawn

November 13, 1986|RICHARD SIMON | Times Staff Writer

Forest Lawn Memorial-Parks has been forced to spend $150,000 to close a garbage dump on its property next to Griffith Park, Los Angeles City Atty. James K. Hahn, whose office prosecuted the mortuary, announced Friday.

The company Thursday was fined $850 and put on 12 months' probation after pleading no contest to violating the municipal code by unlawfully disposing of rubbish on private property.

"As it turned out, this prosecution under a city ordinance, carrying a relatively light fine, forced Forest Lawn to take lengthy and costly remedial actions to correct the problems at the illegal landfill, which they had used for years to dispose of everything from gardening debris to defective coffins," Hahn said.

"The problems at the landfill, which is about 25 feet deep and covers 2 1/2 acres in a ravine, included significant levels of methane gas and the threat of ground-water contamination," Hahn said.

The mortuary spent the $150,000 for digging two wells to monitor the quality of the ground water at the area, for installation of devices to monitor the accumulation of methane gas at the dump and to detect any migration of gas from it. The company also has planted over the landfill and landscaped the site in order to prevent erosion.

The landfill was discovered by a city inspector when he was inspecting the nearby Toyon Canyon landfill in the spring of 1984, said Keith W. Pritsker, the deputy city attorney who handled the case. The criminal case was filed in March, 1985, after city inspectors found that dumping had continued two months after they had ordered it stopped, Pritsker said.

Forest Lawn officials could not be reached for comment Friday. They had maintained in a hearing before the city Board of Public Works in 1984 that they had verbal city permission to dump grass clippings, dead flowers, wood chips and waste paper on their grounds, but denied dumping other refuse.

They also contended that the city was seeking to stop the dumping in retaliation for the mortuary's participation in a successful effort to stop dumping at the city's nearby Toyon Canyon landfill.

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