The South Coast Air Quality Management District board will conduct the second permit application hearing in its 10-year history on Saturday, when it considers a proposal for a waste-to-energy plant at the Spadra landfill in Pomona.
The hearing on the permit, sought by the county Sanitation Districts, will begin at 9:30 a.m. at McCandless Auditorium in the air quality district headquarters, 9150 Flair Drive, El Monte.
Ron Ketcham, air quality district spokesman, said the board, which normally assigns its staff to conduct informational hearings, has conducted only one other full public hearing on a permit application. That involved a proposed oil pipeline project that was scrapped midway through the hearing process.
Ketcham said the district received half a dozen requests for hearings on the Spadra plant from public agencies and officials. He said there is so much controversy over waste incineration that the board decided to conduct this hearing itself.
Caroll Wiese, who heads Citizens Against the Spadra Garbage Burner, said the board's decision to assume jurisdiction over this case is "an encouraging first step."
But Wiese said the permit application is still being rushed. "This issue should not have come this far this fast," she said.
The air quality district staff has recommended that the district issue a construction permit for the plant, which would burn 1,000 tons of trash a day, generating electricity for sale to Southern California Edison Co. The staff has concluded that the plant meets air pollution requirements.
Officials of the county Sanitation Districts said they will install advanced pollution control equipment that will remove 90% of the oxides of nitrogen and carbon monoxide emitted into the air. Total emissions of pollutants will be only one-third as great as those from plants using standard pollution control equipment, the officials say.
The Sanitation Districts also have agreed to pay for pollution reductions at other plants to more than offset the remaining pollutants that would be emitted at Spadra, according to Charles Carry, general manager of the Sanitation Districts.
"The Spadra facility will be the most technologically sophisticated trash-to-energy plant in the country," Carry said.
"People have the concept that these are just large, old-fashioned incinerators and will cause serious air pollution problems in the basin," he said. "That's not the case here."
Carry said the use of advanced pollution control equipment and payment to reduce pollution from other plants upwind from Spadra will "result in an overall net air quality benefit" for the area.