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Study Counters Landfill Charges

November 07, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

A county report released Thursday found that incidences of cancer and low birth weight in neighborhoods around Sunshine Canyon landfill are no greater than those elsewhere in the county, counter to claims by residents opposed to landfill expansion.

Paul Simon, director of health assessment and epidemiology for the county Department of Health Services, also found that there was no statistical deviation, either in death rates or birth defects. The study by Simon and Wendy Cozen, a cancer researcher at USC, was presented to the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, which had commissioned it.

However, the lack of a significant finding does not mean that the landfill is safe, Simon said. He said more testing needs to be done.

The daylong hearing by the water board was expected to end in a vote on whether to allow the landfill's operators to expand it into Granada Hills. But that decision was postponed until an undetermined date because the board had to give up the meeting room.

The postponement extends a long battle between residents concerned about health risks and the landfill operator, Browning-Ferris Industries.

The landfill occupies 1,100 acres in unincorporated territory north of Granada Hills. Under the proposal, it would grow by 450 acres.

That would require approval by the water board and permits with less stringent requirements from the city of Los Angeles, the state Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, officials said.

Earlier at Thursday's hearing at the Metropolitan Water District's downtown headquarters, board members heard more complaints from residents about high rates of health problems in the neighborhoods near the landfill.

Several city officials also voiced their objections to the expansion, including City Councilman Greig Smith, who represents the area, and representatives of Mayor James K. Hahn and City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, among others.

City Council members Cindy Miscikowski, Jan Perry, Bernard C. Parks and Ed Reyes support an expanded landfill.

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