From ABClocal.comMiriam Hernandez

GRANADA HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A lawsuit over the stench from a landfill near Granada Hills was filed by residents living near the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. They say their many complaints have not solved the problem.

“We have been here since 1978. It’s a constant problem,” said local resident R.K. Chetty.

“It smells like Continue reading

The state will monitor Sunshine Canyon until a local body is set up.

Adding another wrinkle to a decades-old controversy over a giant dump in the north San Fernando Valley, the state has approved a request by the operator of Sunshine Canyon Landfill to step in and oversee enforcement of waste laws at the facility until a city-county joint agency is approved.

Sunshine Canyon is actually two landfills roughly a quarter of a mile apart, which puts them in different jurisdictions: one in the city of Los Angeles, the other in unincorporated county territory.

For The Record
Sunshine Canyon: An article in the June 30 California section about the Sunshine Canyon Landfill said the dump sits atop an underground reservoir that holds water for 19 million people. The San Fernando Groundwater Basin is one mile south of the dump, and only non-potable water lies under the dump. Also, the article stated that Greg Loughnane, a spokesman for Browning-Ferris Industries, said company officials wanted to combine the two dumps at the site into one because a single dump would be less expensive to operate. In fact, Loughnane said the sole reason for seeking to merge the two was concern they would run out of room for garbage.

Sunshine Canyon Landfill could take in up to 57 million tons more trash than officials have predicted, potentially extending the life span of the Granada Hills dump far past the 26 years that are expected, according to a consultant hired by dump opponents.

At the request of attorneys hired by local activists, Wisconsin-based landfill engineer J.W. Spear analyzed trash decomposition and compression to show that Browning Ferris Industries underestimated the dump’s 90-million ton capacity and 26-year life span. Longtime Granada Hills activists in the North Valley Coalition now have the backing of national environmental giants, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council, plus the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents BFI’s workers, in their fight over Sunshine Canyon.

Spear’s report was submitted to Los Angeles County officials this week. The county’s Regional Planning Commission is considering a new land-use permit for Sunshine Canyon Landfill today.

The newly formed coalition of residents, environmental groups and organized labor is pushing for a guarantee that the landfill will close when it reaches 90 million tons or after 26 years – as officials have always estimated. Currently, the permit allows BFI to keep adding trash until the dump is full – even years longer than anticipated.

“A closure date would be advantageous and give an end point to the agony that surrounding communities have suffered,” said Jan Chatten-Brown, an attorney representing Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources, or POWER.

The Teamsters local, whose contract with BFI expires in 2007, decided to join to coalition because its members are residents of the community, said spokeswoman Leigh Strope.

“They are concerned about the impact this landfill is having on the health and safety of their families and their children.”

In Sun Valley, the Teamsters have rallied to support BFI competitor, Waste Management, which has proposed to expand Bradley Landfill and build a transfer station.

BFI District Manager Greg Loughnane said the POWER coalition’s request is misguided. The closure date is an estimate. The landfill’s permit regulates the footprint of the dump, not its capacity or life span.

“Market conditions will dictate when the landfill will close,” he said.

Carlos Ruiz, with Los Angeles County Department of Public Works’ Environmental Programs, said his group’s previous analysis conflicts with Spear’s report. County analysts found Sunshine Canyon Landfill can take about 92 million tons and last an extra year or two at the most.

BFI is seeking a new land-use permit to combine two separate dumps – one in county jurisdiction and one in city jurisdiction – into one massive landfill. The joint landfill could take in up to 12,100 tons of trash per day, generating an estimated 2,500 truck trips a day.

The Los Angeles City Council has agreed to pay for a study on urban landfills using funds from a trust fund created a decade ago by the operators of Sunshine Canyon landfill. The $100,000 to be used is the last of the money remaining in the $1 million fund created by Browning Ferris Industries, the landfill’s operator.

The study will look at ways the city can deal with landfills and the city’s trash over the next 20 years. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn has promised to stop using Sunshine Canyon for residential trash disposal by 2006 and will fight the use of urban landfills. There is a June 2005 deadline for the city to decide the fate of its contract with Sunshine Canyon.

A judge Friday temporarily halted the beginning of construction on the expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill into 200 acres of Los Angeles County-controlled land above Granada Hills.

Construction was set to start Monday–two weeks before a lawsuit opposing the dump expansion is scheduled to be heard.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald M. Sohigian issued a temporary restraining order halting the project at the request of the city of Los Angeles, which is suing Los Angeles County and Browning-Ferris Industries, the landfill’s owner.