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Withdrawal of Plans for Spadra Plant Urged

July 16, 1987|MIKE WARD | Times Staff Writer

The staff of the county Sanitation Districts will recommend Monday that directors withdraw a plan to build a waste-to-energy plant at the Spadra landfill in Pomona.

James F. Stahl, assistant general manager, said in a report released Wednesday that although the project is technically sound and environmentally safe, it has drawn increasing opposition from neighboring communities and faces delays that could kill an agreement to sell the plant's electrical power. In view of the problems, he said, directors should consider instructing the staff to stop work on the project.

Mayors who represent San Gabriel Valley cities on district boards said they believe the project is sure to be scrapped.

In fact, Pomona Mayor Donna Smith said, "I feel it is dead now." The anticipated action Monday, she said, "will be a shovel of dirt on it."

City councils in Pomona, West Covina, Claremont and San Dimas all took action this week to oppose the plant.

Smith said the plant cannot be built because the public, concerned about air emissions that would result from burning 1,000 tons of trash a day, will not accept it.

"I honestly feel that the public is not ready for it and I don't know if the public will ever be ready," she said.

The proposal to build a trash incinerator at the Spadra landfill was approved by the Pomona Planning Commission in 1985 and received tentative approval from the staff of the South Coast Air Quality Management District earlier this year. Residents opposed to the project then began organizing, won a hearing before the air quality board and persuaded a growing number of city officials to declare their opposition.

In his report to directors of the sanitation districts, Stahl said the refuse-to-energy plant "would be environmentally safe, protective of public health, and would represent the most technically advanced project of its kind in the world."

But, Stahl said, officials of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, which provided land for the project, and others have requested delays in the project that could make it impossible to fulfill an agreement with Southern California Edison Co. The Edison contract calls for the plant to be in operation by June, 1991.

Stahl recommended that directors withdraw the Spadra permit application pending before the air quality board.

Three weeks ago, County Supervisor Pete Schabarum asked the sanitation districts to withdraw the Spadra waste incinerator application from the South Coast Air Quality Management District. He cited the heavy burden already borne by the San Gabriel Valley in receiving 60% of the county's trash at its landfills, and said priority should be given to opening landfills on the west side of Los Angeles before expanding other facilities.

Schabarum's request will be acted upon Monday by directors of county Sanitation District No. 2, which makes administrative decisions for the 24 operating districts in the system. The districts, which together cover all or part of 74 cities and unincorporated areas, are governed by boards composed of mayors, councilmen and county supervisors.

Although the District 2 board, which includes representatives from 20 cities stretching from Alhambra to Long Beach, makes administrative decisions, Joe Haworth, public information officer, said it traditionally is guided by advice from other boards. In the case of the Spadra landfill, Haworth said, the area is part of District 21, which is governed by a board consisting of Supervisor Mike Antonovich and the mayors of Claremont, Industry, La Puente, La Verne, Pomona, San Dimas, Walnut and West Covina. In addition to Pomona, Claremont, San Dimas and West Covina, the City of Walnut has gone on record in favor of withdrawal of the Spadra incineration proposal.

Directors of both Districts 2 and 21 will meet along with other directors at the Sanitation Districts' office in Whittier at 2 p.m. Monday.

West Covina Mayor Kenneth Chappell said his city's position is that no trash incinerators should be built in the San Gabriel Valley until other areas of the county begin handling their own trash.

Claremont Mayor Judy Wright said the Westside of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley do not have their share of trash disposal facilities, putting an extra burden on facilities in the San Gabriel Valley. She said it is time for the San Gabriel Valley to refuse to accept more trash until other areas of the county build facilities.

'We're Tired' of Status

"We feel strongly about this in our city," she said. "We're tired of being a second-class valley."

Walnut Mayor Harvey Holden said the Spadra landfill is a poor location for a trash incineration plant because of nearby homes. The 260-foot smokestack that would be necessary to disperse emissions would be visible from homes in both Walnut and Diamond Bar, he said.

Even if waste-to-energy plants can be run safely, he said, they "can't be acceptable next to homes."

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