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Let's Talk Trash--Together : A 'dump summit' could straighten out the maze of landfill projects and policy

December 10, 1995

We respectfully suggest that it is time for a Dump Summit.

Let's (Point A) gather all of the public and private landfill operators for the sites that:

1) are closed and may reopen; 2) should have been closed and will remain open; 3) are open and want to expand operations; 4) haven't even broken ground yet, but have drawn opposition from as far away as the halls of Congress.

Point B: Put them in a room with the region's elected officials and the irate and angst-filled representatives of affected neighborhoods.

Point C: Lock them in there until a clear winner emerges or we have a rational regional landfill plan of action that cuts through the current fog. Is that so much to ask?

Right now, confusion, perceived betrayal and a palpable sense of anger run deep.

That's apparent whether we are talking about plans to open Elsmere Canyon in north Los Angeles County, plans to expand Chiquita Canyon Landfill, plans to reopen Sunshine Canyon near Granada Hills or keep Lopez Canyon Landfill open well past its promised closing date.

The dump scene is fraught with overlapping interests. Consider the following.

First, we have the Federal Trade Commission deciding that BKK Corp. will not have to close its West Covina landfill as part of a deal to sell its interest in the proposed Elsmere Canyon landfill. West Covina accepts 25% of the county's trash. In the process, the FTC approved BKK's deal with Browning-Ferris Industries Inc. Sunshine Canyon is controlled by Browning-Ferris. Meanwhile, Lopez Canyon Landfill neighbors hope that the reopening of Sunshine will speed the closing of Lopez, and so on.

Lawsuits, actual and threatened, abound.

Is there any wonder why citizens throughout the region smell garbage every time they try to fathom the nature of this maze?

A "summit" might just clear the air, so to speak, offer some relief to deserving neighbors and cut down on all the lawyers' fees and court costs.

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