Report explores landfills outside city

Report explores landfills outside city


Landfills in the Antelope Valley and Corona appear to be the cheapest and most viable destinations for Los Angeles’ residential trash if city officials choose to pull out of Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Granada Hills, according to a Bureau of Sanitation staff report released Friday.

The long-awaited report is the precursor to a decision next year on Mayor James Hahn’s plan to stopping using urban landfills and send nearly 3,600 tons per day of Los Angeles trash to far-off dumps. Because Los Angeles already approved its expansion into Granada Hills, Sunshine Canyon could accept trash from commercial haulers and other communities even if the city dumps its refuse elsewhere.

Though the cost figures are still fuzzy and subject to debate, Sanitation staffers estimated that trash disposal costs could jump between $10 million and $20 million per year over current costs.

However, the report said, Sunshine Canyon fees also could increase by $18 million a year over current costs under a proposal made by Browning Ferris Industries in May — dramatically narrowing the price gap.

BFI managers disputed the cost estimates and insisted that Sunshine Canyon is still the least expensive option for the city.

North Valley Councilman Greig Smith said the report proved that the city can cut ties to Sunshine Canyon Landfill, go elsewhere in the short term and develop alternative trash technologies in the long term.

“BFI showed us repeatedly that they thought they had us in a corner … and they were bullying the city into staying at Sunshine,” Smith said.

After the city has received proposals from six companies, the report primarily compares the nation’s two largest trash haulers for landfill disposal over the next 15 years — BFI and Waste Management Inc.

The other companies did not have the experience, low cost and reliability of the Waste Management proposal to use dumps in the Antelope Valley and Riverside County, according to the report.

Bernard Huberman’s company BLT Enterprises submitted a proposal that included rail and trucks to haul trash to remote landfills, but his plans didn’t rank high in the staff’s consideration.

“Perhaps staff was overwhelmed and wants to take the path of least resistance,” Huberman said.

Sunshine Canyon opponents had a mixed reaction.

While pleased that there are alternatives to the dump, they were disappointed that the city staff was focusing on another Valley- based trash company. Waste Management has proposed to build a trash transfer station at Bradley Landfill in Sun Valley.

“I sort of wince at the thought that it’s still the big two,” said Wayde Hunter, president of the North Valley Coalition. “I don’t want to put our trash problem on East Valley either. That’s why I’d hoped some of these other companies would be considered.”

Waste Management wants to raise the Bradley Landfill’s height by 43 feet so that the landfill, which is nearly full, could continue operating until the transfer station is built.

Other activists were disappointed that the sanitation report focused almost exclusively on landfills for the next 15 years and made only a passing reference to recycling and alternative technologies to transform trash into energy and other products.

“It’s so typical of the city: They didn’t talk about how much it would cost to do a good recycling before landfilling,” said Mary Edwards, a Sunshine Canyon opponent who sat on Mayor Hahn’s task force to study landfill alternatives. “In order to get the contracts at those prices, they’re going to lock themselves into this arcane process of landfilling.”

But Hahn’s staff cautioned that the sanitation report is preliminary and said they’re still looking at all proposals.

“We’re really interested to see the numbers and the proposals that have come in,” said spokeswoman Sahar Moridani. “Of course we expect these numbers to change and go down as we get into serious negotiations.”

Copyright Copley Press Inc. 2004

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