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.

SANTA MONICA, California — The Sunshine Canyon landfill in the San Fernando Valley could expose residents in the region to more trash for a far longer period than they are being told, according to Protect Our Water and Environmental Resources (POWER), a coalition of environmental and labor groups dedicated to protecting residents of Southern California from the dangers of landfills. The community surrounding Sunshine Canyon should not be forced to bear the burdens of the landfill for longer than governmental reports previously represented.

A permit proposal for Sunshine Canyon, submitted by BFI/Allied Waste, will be considered at a hearing Thursday at the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission. Area residents should know that previous environmental documents stating that the facility has the capacity to receive 90 million tons and would close after about 26 years are unreliable. This is because there is no provision guaranteeing that the landfill will close when it receives 90 million tons or after 26 years. POWER is requesting that the Commission require a tonnage limit or closure date.

Sunshine Canyon could actually take in much more waste than 90 million tons, according to a new study prepared for the coalition by landfill engineer J.W. Spear, who has more than 25 years of experience in the waste management industry. The study found that 24 million to 57 million more tons of waste could go into the landfill, on top of the 90 million that has been projected.

“Mr. Spear’s credentials are impressive and the North Valley Coalition believes his conclusions support our contention that this landfill will be much larger than analyzed in the environmental documentation. Its impacts on the community, indeed the city and county as a whole, have not been adequately addressed,” said Wayde Hunter, President of the North Valley Coalition, which represents residents in the area of the landfill.

Because the tonnage determines the closure date of the landfill, this could mean that the landfill would operate far longer than the 26 years now estimated. There is no requirement that will force the landfill to close when 90 million tons have been deposited or when 26 years have elapsed.

“The North San Fernando Valley continues to suffer from the negative effects of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill. The time has come to put an end to this environmentally polluting practice and start recovering our waste for beneficial use as described in my RENEW LA plan,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Greig Smith.

The POWER coalition includes the North Valley Coalition, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Law Foundation, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.