Faced with conflicting assertions about whether expansion of an Azusa dump threatens to pollute groundwater, the Regional Water Quality Control Board in Los Angeles last week delayed a decision on a new permit for the landfill until February.
William Anderson, an attorney for the Azusa Land Reclamation Co., told the board on Monday that contaminants found in groundwater near the company's dump on Gladstone Street do not come from trash buried there but from sources north of the property.
And he assured the board that trash can be buried in new sections of the dump without leaking contaminants into groundwater. He said the company plans to line the disposal area with clay and install a collection system to capture liquids from the buried trash.
But Linn Magoffin, chairman of the Main San Gabriel Basin Watermaster board, said "virtually all the water agencies in the San Gabriel Valley are opposed to this expansion" of the dump. He said he doubts that a clay liner would keep trash from seeping through porous soil. The dump is in a sand and gravel pit that is being mined by Transit Mixed Concrete Co.
Area Called Porous
"The area is so porous that anything that enters into the ground can go right down," Magoffin said.
The issue before the regional board is whether to authorize Azusa Land Reclamation Co. to bury trash on 220 acres adjoining its current 80-acre disposal area, which will be full in about two years.
The staff of the state Regional Water Quality Control Board recommended that the permit be granted with a long list of conditions to monitor the site and protect groundwater.
But after water industry leaders submitted objections, both the staff and board members suggested a delay to give them time to review the information presented Monday.
Paul D. Flowers, vice chairman of the nine-member board, said he was impressed by the objections to the dump. "Based on what I've heard, I would vote against it," he said.
Another board member, Dan W. Walker, a Torrance councilman, said he would insist that groundwater be protected no matter what the cost to the dump. "Our responsibility is not to hold down the cost of dumping garbage but to protect the water quality," he said.
Larry Zarian, a board member and Glendale councilman, noted that the area is running out of places to dispose of garbage. Therefore, he said, he hopes that safeguards can be found to keep the Azusa landfill operating. He suggested that the regional board's staff should "act as a catalyst to bring the two sides together."
After the board meeting, Robert Berlien, general manager of the Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, said it "is very doubtful" that any plan allowing the dump to expand would be acceptable to water producers.