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VALLEY FOCUS | Calabasas

Landfill in Recreation Area to Get Permit

October 10, 1998|SUE FOX

The National Park Service released its final environmental assessment of the Calabasas Landfill on Friday, determining that the 505-acre dump that accepted hazardous wastes until 1980 has no significant impact on the environment.

The agency plans to issue a permit within 30 days that will allow the landfill to continue operating within the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, said Scott Erickson, the recreation area's deputy superintendent.

Calabasas Landfill accepted hazardous wastes from September 1965 to July 1980. In February 1997, while considering whether to grant the landfill a permit, the park service released a draft environmental assessment that sparked concern among some residents in the surrounding communities.

It said that chemicals--including vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene--had seeped past several barriers installed in 1984 to prevent contaminated water from leaching out of the landfill, located north of the Ventura Freeway near Lost Hills Road.

In response to this draft document, the city of Calabasas and many local politicians and homeowners groups requested that the government conduct a thorough environmental impact study before granting a permit.

Under federal law, landfills located within the National Park System must be granted special use permits to operate. Calabasas Landfill, which sits on county land and is run by the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, opened in 1961, 17 years before the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area was created.

"This is just patently absurd," said Janice Lee, who helped Calabasas prepare its response to the draft document last year. "It clearly shows, in my mind, that the National Park Service has obfuscated their duty because they're afraid of the political football of having to close down an L.A. County landfill." Erickson said the park service determined, after an exhaustive review, that the landfill complies with all federal and state regulations.

The new environmental assessment is available to the public, but the park service will not be taking additional public comments on it.

"From our perspective, we've fulfilled our obligation under the law," Erickson said. "The permit will be issued within a 30-day time period."

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