SANTA ANA — The final piece of Orange County's ambitious "trash for cash" plan to help lift itself out of bankruptcy will go before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday when officials propose increased dumping at an Irvine landfill.
The board will decide whether to allow Los Angeles-based Calsan Inc. to dump up to 2,300 tons of garbage a day at the Bowerman landfill. The largest importation proposal yet, it would generate $8 million a year from landfill fees. The supervisors last month approved two smaller contracts with other out-of-county trash haulers.
Together, the firms plan to eventually import nearly 5,000 tons of waste a day, bringing two of the county's three major landfills to capacity and producing $16 million a year in new revenue.
Officials from the county's Integrated Waste Management Department said Friday that the Calsan contract marks a major step forward in their effort to use the landfill system as a means of digging out of the financial crisis.
"We have met our goal of generating revenues for the bankruptcy recovery and easing the burden on local taxpayers," spokeswoman Cymantha Atkinson said. "We're using the landfills as an asset."
When the county first examined the idea of trash importation earlier this year, officials hoped to generate $50 million a year. But they quickly realized that the estimate was too high because out-of-county haulers were unwilling to pay the $35-per-ton dumping fee.
To attract bids, the county slashed the fee substantially, acknowledging that importation would generate only about $15 million in annual revenue.
Calsan Inc. will pay about $18 per ton to dump waste from Compton, Bellflower and Downey at the Bowerman landfill. Last month, the board allowed Waste Management of California Inc. to import 658 tons of waste a day from El Cajon and Oceanside to Bowerman. Both agreements go into effect Jan. 1.
The imported trash and waste dumped by local haulers will bring the landfill to capacity, Atkinson said. The Olinda landfill in Brea will also reach capacity next year when Taormina Industries Inc. begins depositing up to 2,000 tons of trash per day from Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Integrated Waste Management Department set capacity limits at its landfills to ensure that they do not fill up too quickly. Atkinson said trash importation is possible because the total waste generated from within the county leaves the landfills well below capacity.
The county's third major dump, located in San Juan Capistrano, will not be able to accept out-of-county trash until 1997 under an agreement reached with the city earlier this year. But officials said they are not sure whether the county will pursue importation to the site because it would require elaborate environmental studies.
Many local haulers oppose the "trash for cash" plan because it offers outside refuse firms greatly reduced dumping fees. But officials said the discounts are needed to make importation financially feasible to out-of-county haulers, who have greater transportation costs.
Irvine Councilwoman Paula Werner complained Friday that the county was ignoring cities affected by its importation plans. "Once again, the county is going off on its own and not keeping the cities informed," Werner said. "I don't see a partnership here."