landfills LA County Board of Supervisors permits landfill expansion

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has permitted an expansion to the Chiquita Canyon landfill in Santa Clarita Valley, California, a report by the Los Angeles Times says. The approval went forward despite some environmentalists and residents opposing it.

The landfill began operating in Val Verde, a semirural California community, in 1972. In 1995, an agreement was reached between operators and community members that allowed for an expansion but required the landfill to close when it reached 23 million tons of waste in November 2019, the report says.

Owner Waste Connections, The Woodlands, Texas, obtained a waiver from the county that allowed the landfill to stay open when it almost reached its limit in 2016 while it sought a new permit for another expansion. The report says the company appealed the terms of that permit because of the county’s waste limits and operating fees.

More than 50 people were present June 27 at the two-hour public meeting regarding the permit.

While representatives from the industry said the landfill serves a necessary function and contributes to the local economy, opponents in attendance said the board was favoring corporate interests over resident health.

According to the report, Supervisor Kathryn Barger proposed a compromise. The compromise requires Waste Connections to hire a consultant to monitor air quality in locations immediately surrounding the landfill and to establish a phone line for complaints. It also requires the landfill owners to turn the site into a park after it closes.

The compromise also reduces fees Waste Connections normally would pay for waste processed outside of Santa Clarita Valley, but it will still have to give 10 percent of its tipping fees to the county treasurer and tax collector on top of other Department of Public Works fees.

The new permit requires the landfill to close when it reaches 60 million tons or after 30 years, whichever occurs first.

Casella landfill expansion vote fails to pass in Massachusetts town

Voters in Southbridge, Massachusetts, have rejected a referendum to expand a landfill facility, according to local news sources.

The nonbinding ballot question would have allowed for an expansion of the state’s largest landfill. Voters rejected the expansion in a 1,303 to 852 vote. Opponents of the expansion launched a “No on 1” campaign.

Casella Waste Systems, Rutland, Vermont, operates the 95-acre Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park. The landfill, permitted to accept 405,600 tons of waste per year, is reaching capacity, according to the reports.

Casella is seeking a four-phase expansion to run the facility for another 11 years, the article states. The ballot question asked if the town manager should negotiate a contract with Casella for continued management of an expanded landfill “to provide sustainable benefits and payments” to Southbridge.

Casella reportedly collected hundreds of signatures to put the question on the ballot and organized a “Southbridge First” campaign.

Considerable opposition arose with the expansion possibility. Residents have cited environmental issues and uncertainty about legal liability because the landfill is on town-owned land. Another concern is with water contamination of private wells in the town of Charlton.

Casella is providing bottled water to 29 Charlton homes, 10 of which are mandatory because of an order from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The wells are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, a probable human carcinogen, the article says.

Casella has denied that the well contamination is from the landfill, citing a report that identifies other potential industrial sources.

However, Casella has agreed to split with MassDEP the cost of a $10 million water line extension to the homes with contaminated wells, according to the MassLive article.

The landfill created $3.2 million in payments to Southbridge in 2016, and roughly 24 jobs. The company says expansion plans would address many environmental concerns.

In February, MassDEP reportedly denied a site suitability application for the landfill expansion, saying Casella failed to show the facility does not pose a public health risk. Casella appealed that decision.