YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Pacific Waste to Pursue Smaller Plant With New Pollution Controls

April 30, 1987|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

IRWINDALE — Pacific Waste Management Corp. has announced plans to reduce the size of its proposed waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale by two-thirds, promised to improve the plant's pollution controls and abandoned an agreement that would have imported trash into the San Gabriel Valley from the South Bay.

John McGrain, who heads Pacific Waste's parent company, Conversion Industries of Pasadena, said that by redesigning the plant, "we can make it a little better."

At the same time, McGrain said, Pacific Waste will wage a more open and aggressive campaign for community support than it did in its losing attempt to win state Energy Commission approval to build a giant incinerator that would have burned 3,000 tons of trash a day generating 80 megawatts of power, enough electricity to serve 40,000 homes. The commission dismissed Pacific Waste's application to build the plant last week after McGrain announced that Pacific Waste would no longer seek commission approval.

1,000 Tons a Day

McGrain said the revised plan calls for an incinerator that would burn 1,000 tons of trash a day, generating 30 megawatts of electricity. The project would not require Energy Commission approval because the electrical output, which would be sold to Southern California Edison Co., would be under 50 megawatts.

McGrain said Pacific Waste made a mistake in shrugging off or ignoring criticism of its waste-to-energy project instead of replying in detail.

"We never responded properly when critics voiced opposition," McGrain said, adding that the company intends to change its approach.

"We have a job to do. The job is communication," he said.

Opponents Not Swayed

But opponents of the incinerator said that reducing the project's size will not overcome their objections.

An official of Miller Brewing Co., which has employed a team of attorneys, scientists, engineers and lobbyists who have worked for two years to stop the project, said he expects the company to maintain its opposition.

Clifton E. Amos, manager of community relations at Miller's headquarters in Milwaukee, said a smaller plant would emit less pollution but would "only be better by a matter of degrees." He said Miller will look at the revised plan before committing itself but "I guess we'll be back in the arena again."

The company claims that air emissions from the incinerator could harm the health of employees at its Irwindale brewery, which lies across the Foothill (210) Freeway from Pacific Waste's proposed site. Because the area's air quality is already poor, Amos said, "we are opposed to garbage burners in the San Gabriel Valley."

Duarte City Manager Jesse Duff, who estimated that his city has spent more than $150,000 in its fight against the Pacific Waste project, said he expects Duarte to continue its opposition on544499813at any size."

Mayor John Van Doren said Duarte will carry the battle when the revised project comes before the city of Irwindale, the South Coast Air Quality Management District and other agencies.

Irwindale City Manager Charles Martin said the city will require Pacific Waste to obtain a conditional-use permit. Until now, Martin said, Irwindale has "kind of sat on the sidelines," relying on the expertise of the Energy Commission to determine whether the plant could be built and operated with environmental safety.

But with the Energy Commission out of the picture, Martin said, the city Planning Commission and City Council will have to scrutinize the project and decide for themselves whether the plant can be operated safely.

The Pacific Waste decision to reduce the size of the waste-to-energy plant returns permitting power from the Energy Commission to city, county and regional authorities.

The Irwindale Resource Recovery Authority, a city agency, sold $395 million worth of bonds in 1984 to finance construction of the waste-to-energy plant. Pacific Waste officials said some of the bonds will be redeemed because the smaller project will be cheaper, though no estimate of the plant's cost is yet available.

In addition to city approval, Pacific Waste will need several other permits, including one from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. One of the persistent stumbling blocks for Pacific Waste has been the company's inability to satisfy air quality requirements.

Air quality regulations allow Pacific Waste to construct an incinerator emitting pollutants only if it obtains offset credits from plants that have shut down polluting equipment or installed pollution-control devices that exceed legal requirements.

Some Credits Won't Apply

McGrain said many of the offset credits Pacific Waste had obtained for its large trash incinerator will not apply to the smaller plant. The lost credits are from plants that have shut down. Pacific Waste can use shut-down credits only from plants that close after Pacific Waste files a new application.

Los Angeles Times Articles