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City Board's Assurances Don't Calm Landfill's Neighbors

At a public meeting, dozens of Granada Hills residents express fear that the proposed expansion of the facility will hurt water quality.

June 19, 2003|Hilda Munoz | Times Staff Writer

Dozens of San Fernando Valley residents on Wednesday challenged public assurances that their water quality won't be affected by an expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill into Granada Hills.

"I don't believe that that water can be as clean as they're saying it is," said Fred Rennwald, 61, about a local creek.

About 80 residents attended one of two public hearings held by the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board on the proposal by Browning-Ferris Industries to expand landfill operations, which take place on county property, into the Granada Hills neighborhood of Los Angeles. The increased operations would take place on city property between O'Melveny Park and San Fernando Road.

Although some contamination has been found on both landfill properties, it is not a major concern, said Rod Nelson, the board's head of landfills. BFI is fixing the problem, he said.

But some residents at the hearing in Granada Hills expressed skepticism about the board's assurances.

"What if the experts are wrong, and don't tell me the experts cannot be wrong," said John Maddox. "This is a very serious issue about water contamination. I hope it will be discussed seriously."

Mary Edwards called the notion of allowing BFI to self-monitor contamination at its own landfill disturbing.

"Self-monitoring to me sounds like allowing drivers on the freeway to set their own speed limits and keep a log at the end of the day," she said.

Nelson said all waste facilities with water permits are required to monitor themselves. He said their samples and reports are examined by a state-certified laboratory.

The board is expected to vote July 24 on whether to grant BFI a water permit.

Last month, BFI won a permit for the expansion from the state board that regulates landfills.

However, Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn's office has promised to fight to block other permits needed by the operator to expand the landfill.

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