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Landfill Operator's Petition Denied

State board rejects request to remove two provisions in permit to expand Valley dump.

June 19, 2004|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

The state Water Resources Control Board has rejected a request by Sunshine Canyon landfill operators to remove two provisions in its permit to expand the dump into Granada Hills, officials said Friday.

Browning-Ferris Inc. executives objected to a requirement to install a double-liner system -- consisting of two 60-millimeter high-density polyethylene sheets, and two 2-foot layers of clay -- to prevent contaminants from seeping into groundwater.

BFI executives argued that federal environmental law requires landfills to use only one 60-millimeter polyethylene sheet and one 2-foot layer of clay.

They also contended the double-liner system would add $15 million to the cost of the expansion project.

Company officials also disputed a provision that would allow water regulators to review, amend or possibly revoke the permit if there were sufficient evidence that the expanded landfill posed a health risk to the public or water quality.

The landfill occupies 1,100 acres in an unincorporated area in the north San Fernando Valley.

"After careful consideration, it is concluded that the petition in this matter fails to raise substantial issues that are appropriate for review by the state Water Resources Control Board," water board Executive Director Celeste Cantu wrote.

BFI executives disagreed with the board's decision.

"We feel very strongly that our proposed liner system that was accepted by the regional board's technical staff is fully protective of groundwater and exceeds federal and state regulations," said Greg Loughnane, district manager for BFI's Los Angeles operations.

Loughnane said the company is weighing its options on how it will proceed.

Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith, who represents the area, cheered the decision.

"It is not surprising that the state board would find in our favor when the water supply of an entire region is at stake," Smith said. "This was an absolute appropriate finding."

Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn, who has vowed to make the city landfill-free by 2006, said he was "pleased to see that the [state board] agreed with our position that BFI's claims were without merit."

The state water regulators' action does not overturn the regional board's decision to allow BFI to develop a 450-acre landfill expansion.

The plan has already received land-use related approvals from relevant city and state agencies.

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