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Closed Palos Verdes Landfill Added to State Cleanup Plan

February 26, 1987|DEAN MURPHY | Times Staff Writer

The Palos Verdes Landfill, which accepted 350,000 tons of hazardous waste before closing in 1980, has been added to a state cleanup plan, meaning state officials will help determine if contaminants are leaking from the site and will monitor any cleanup efforts.

Carolyn Mejia, who oversees the 291-acre landfill for the state Department of Health Services, said the department added the landfill to the state plan in part because of the "potential for leakage from the site."

She also cited the cooperation of both the county Sanitation Districts, which control the landfill, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which has taken an interest in problems at the site, for the decision to increase state involvement in the local effort.

Mejia said the change in effect makes the Department of Health Services the lead agency in efforts to investigate and clean up the landfill.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 1, 1987 Home Edition South Bay Part 9 Page 2 Column 6 Zones Desk 2 inches; 40 words Type of Material: Correction
A photograph that accompanied a story Thursday on the closed Palos Verdes Landfill in Rolling Hills Estates actually showed earthmovers working at the Portuguese Bend landslide in Rancho Palos Verdes. No hazardous wastes are known to have been dumped at the Rancho Palos Verdes site.

In late 1985, the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board discovered contaminated ground water in the northwest corner of the Rolling Hills Estates landfill, and small amounts of hazardous chemicals were discovered in two areas outside the landfill boundaries, although the source of the contamination has not been determined. The board last year directed the Sanitation Districts to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the entire landfill.

"Because of the (1985) findings we see that there is a potential for off-site contamination, but that it still needs to be verified," Mejia said. "The contamination found led us to believe there was a need for an investigation of the site."

The landfill has been placed on the Site Expenditure Plan for the state Hazardous Substance Cleanup Bond of Act of 1984. The designation allocates $70,000 in state money for the Department of Health Services to monitor an investigation of the site, and to oversee any cleanup program that may be necessary. The Sanitation Districts must pay for the investigation and any cleanup the state may require.

Bob Borzelleri, a spokesman for the Department of Health Services in Sacramento, said the landfill's inclusion in the state program is meant to ensure that local efforts comply with state requirements. He said it does not mean that the state has new-found fears that the site is a public health hazard.

"By no stretch of the imagination does this make it more of a public health hazard or more of a threat," Borzelleri said. "We have known that 350,000 tons of hazardous waste went into that place. . . . That is enough to warrant that it needs our attention."

But Assemblyman Gerald Felando (R-San Pedro), who represents Rolling Hills Estates and has been an outspoken critic of the landfill, said state involvement "is an encouraging sign that the state is at last acknowledging the enormity of the problem."

Steve Maguin, an engineer for the Sanitation Districts, said he was unaware of the decision to include the landfill in the state bond plan, but he said the Sanitation Districts have always welcomed state involvement in decisions about the landfill.

"We have voluntarily solicited their input," Maguin said.

Mejia said the department has drafted a consent order that outlines how the Sanitation Districts should go about assessing conditions at the landfill. The draft was sent on Monday to the EPA and the Regional Water Quality Control Board for revisions, and eventually will be sent to the districts, she said.

A timetable included in the state plan calls for any necessary cleanup activities at the landfill to be under way by 1994. Mejia, however, said that the date could change.

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