Formation of a citizens group to oppose construction of a $140-million waste-to-energy plant at the Spadra landfill in Pomona was announced Wednesday during a press conference at the landfill's entrance.
"We're standing right now in the most polluted spot in the United States," said West Covina Councilman Forest Tennant as he endorsed the efforts of the new group, Citizens Against the Spadra Garbage Burner.
Tennant, who helped lead a campaign against the construction of a huge waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale, said that the area has some of the nation's poorest air quality and that many of its water wells are contaminated. With more than 60% of the trash collected in the county already being trucked to San Gabriel Valley landfills, he said, the area should not be building facilities to handle more trash.
Tennant noted that the West Covina City Council this week passed a resolution opposing construction of any waste-to-energy plants in the San Gabriel Valley until other areas of the county provide their own trash disposal facilities.
San Dimas Councilman Terry Dipple echoed that concern. "We're tired of our area being the dumping ground of the whole Los Angeles County area," he said.
Caroll Wiese, a Diamond Bar businesswoman who heads the new group, said her concern is not only with the trash burden that has been placed on the area, but also with the incineration process.
She said the plant would release pollutants and toxic contaminants into the air and would lower the value of neighboring property. Wiese said a health-risk analysis recently made public for the proposed plant understates the danger.
The risk assessment, made by HDR Techserv Inc. for the county Sanitation Districts, which run the landfill and plan to build the waste-to-energy plant, concluded that toxic emissions would be so low that "there is not expected to be a single case of cancer as a result of the facility."
The proposed plant, scheduled to go into operation in 1991, would burn 1,000 tons of trash a day, creating 24 megawatts of electricity for sale to Southern California Edison Co.
Steve Maguin, who heads the solid waste division of the Sanitation Districts, said new pollution-control technology would prevent any pollutants from leaving the incinerator and reaching the ground in measurable amounts.
The pollutants that do escape would be dispersed into the air through a 260-foot-high smokestack, but Joe Haworth, information officer for the Sanitation Districts, said the impact on Pomona would be no greater than the amount of pollution that reaches the area from ships based in Wilmington.
The South Coast Air Quality Management District reported earlier this month that the Spadra plant has met the air pollution requirements and that the district intends to grant a permit for construction. The permit notice gives the public until June 25 to comment on the application or seek reversal of the tentative decision.
The cities of Duarte and Pomona have asked the district to hold a hearing on the permit.
Supervisor Pete Schabarum, and Norton Younglove, chairman of the air quality board, said they also will ask for hearings.
The air quality board will consider those requests at its meeting June 5. The board could order an informal hearing to guide the staff in its final decision or could take control of the application and hold hearings itself.
The proposed plant would be required to offset four kinds of pollutants that would be released into the air.
The plant would emit 347 pounds a day of reactive organic gases, which would be offset by the acquisition of pollution credits from American Pharmaseal Co., in Irwindale, which has reduced its emissions beyond legal requirements. The districts would pay $340,000 to American Pharmaseal under a proposed agreement.
The districts would pay Great Lakes Carbon Corp. in Wilmington about $500,000 for credits to offset the daily release of 396 pounds of sulfur oxides and 185 pounds of particulate matter.
In addition, the Spadra plant would release 293 pounds of nitrogen oxides a day, which would be offset through emission reductions at the Sanitation Districts' water pollution control plant in Carson.
The Sanitation Districts, which are governed by city and county officials, have built one waste-to-energy plant and have another under construction. The districts and City of Commerce operate a plant that burns 300 tons of trash a day. The districts and the cities of Long Beach, Lakewood and Signal Hill are building a plant that will burn 1,350 tons of trash a day.
The Sanitation Districts also are considering construction of waste-to-energy plants at two locations inside the Puente Hills landfill. The size of the plants has not been determined.
A private company, Pacific Waste Management Corp., recently gave up on its attempt to win a permit from the state Energy Commission to build a plant in Irwindale that would have burned 3,000 tons of trash a day. The company has said it intends to revise its plans and seek approval for a smaller plant.