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Commentary by Steve Lee
| Saturday, Sep 17, 2016

steveleeLast month the Val Verde Civic Association held a meeting to discuss options regarding the violations of the contract that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill operator and the county entered into with Val Verde 20 years ago. After a long night of discussion, the town voted unanimously to pursue any avenue to hold the landfill and the county to the contract they entered into.

I have been informed that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill has responded quickly to this decision. I am told the landfill has lawyered up and has informed the town of Val Verde that it will have no say in the contract from this point on. The landfill will continue to violate the contract with Val Verde; the county will continue to allow the landfill to violate the contract. A new deal will be struck with the county and with the landfill. The Val Verde Civic Association will be left out of the deal, because it represents the wishes of the community of Val Verde.

This was not the first vote the town had taken on this issue. A little over two years ago, the town voted unanimously against the expansion of the landfill. The community wanted the landfill to hold to the contract that called for the landfill to close when it reached 23 million tons. The citizens did not feel that the stench money they had been paid for so many years were worth the health of their residents.

You might think Val Verde is being completely cut out of the negotiations and is being dealt a raw deal. I have been informed that according to the lawyers for the landfill, they are not being completely cut out. The Benefits Funding Committee will be able to sign the contract with the landfill and the county. That’s the committee that gets 100 percent of its funding from the landfill. That would seem to be a conflict of interest. It appears the lawyers for the landfill say it is not a conflict at all. Hopefully this board will let the town decide to accept a deal or take its chances in a court of law.

The actions of the landfill lawyers lead me to believe the game that was played by the county and the landfill is just that. The game was rigged for one outcome – and one outcome only. The landfill will get its expansion no matter what.

A company is found to be dumping illegal scrap metal in the landfill, and the landfill’s reply is, “We were blindsided.”

Santa Paula’s sewer company has a major explosion, and when the fire department arrives on the scene, there are trucks from Chiquita Canyon with illegal substances in their trucks and the EPA rewards Chiquita Canyon with all of the cleanup material from the hazard.

The dirt from Malibu’s school site is found to be 1,000 times the danger of what the EPA says is acceptable, and Chiquita Canyon takes in the dirt and uses the dirt for road cover, so each passing truck can kick the tainted dirt into the air.

Chiquita Canyon has a contract with Val Verde that says no sludge, and in the last year, on their own quarterly reports are the words “sewer line.” The word “sewer” shows up much more than once.

It has been fixed all along. The last time the landfill tried to push through a new deal, the Castaic Area Town Council was opposed and wrote a strong letter expressing its concerns for Val Verde. As their representative, they felt Val Verde could possibly be in danger of hazardous health effects from the landfill. This time, the Castaic Area Town Council wrote no such letter of opposition.

What was the difference, you might ask? Well, this time, Castaic will get 30 percent of the money that would have been sent to Val Verde. With money in their pockets, the health of one of their own communities is irrelevant.

Twenty years ago, Supervisor Antonovich was against the landfill because it violated Ventura’s air space. But there were only “yes” votes when it came to a vote. Millions and millions of dollars later, Antonovich says he does not want Chiquita to be a regional landfill. But it already is one. Very little of the trash comes from the Santa Clarita Valley. Rest assured, the county’s vote will once again be “yes.”

Some would say the county was not part of the agreement. But the county signed the conditional use permit, which means the county was aware of the contract and did nothing to enforce it. The fact that no closure plans were ever submitted, even when the tonnage limit was about to be reached, also suggests that the county was part of it all along. The county should have been enforcing so much more, but when they are paid, they will look the other way.

It would seem that all can be bought, and what cannot be bought will simply be ignored and cut out. The only way this fight can be won is if more residents outside of Val Verde speak up. All of the Santa Clarita Valley is subject to the shifting winds, and all of us get the dangers carried by those winds.

There is a difference this time, though. The majority of the residents of Val Verde are united in the fight. Twenty years ago they were not. Some wanted the money, while others wanted their health. The landfill and the county are playing a different game this time because they are desperate to keep the huge profits they are making.

The one thing that was not foreseen was that Val Verde and some surrounding communities would be so united.

 

Steve Lee is an asthmatic resident of Val Verde.

 

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5 Comments

  1. Julie-Anne says:

    What is Erin Brochovich doing these days?

  2. Anne Marie Whalley says:

    The County has signed a waiver to expand the tonnage of the landfill. The landfill knew how to obtain this waiver. Both, the County and the landfill are waiting for the new EIR for the expansion in tonnage and envelop for the landfill. The waiver gives the landfill the time to work on the EIR. Both, the County and the landfill are playing us. I am going to send a letter (10 pages) to Mr. Richard Bruckner, as well as to all Supervisors.

  3. The City of Santa Clarita had asked for a reduced trash bill and some $5000 contributions for some city events. Talk about selling out!!

    It time for the City Council to take a stand against this expansion. Don’t vote for any one running for the city council that isn’t against this expansion of the dump.

  4. Richard Hood says:

    Good thing character doesn’t matter in business or politics. It’s so nice to know that people can be good without God-given morals. The Supervisors would have made great railroad barons. The mocking, disrespectful tone and attitude of the dump employees towards a 50 year resident of Val Verde at one of their Embassy Suites meetings was eye-opening and shocking. One can’t act towards others that way without a boat load of self-hatred, so I don’t know whether to pity those “men” or loath what they have become. Same with our county advisors and Mr. not so squeaky clean-cut smiley pants Antonovich. What is the difference between this and being a traitor to the people you swear to represent? He knows the people son’t want the dump. Why doesn’t Antonovich simply come out in the open and declare his long range plan for the dump, and his rationale? Because the facts and publicity would be damning to his reputation (how big an issue is this in the press?). Val Verde could get more press if they started a recall on Antonovich – he might even get the other supervisors to vote to shut it down. It’s not the number of signatures – its the noise you make while doing it – get those cameras rolling!

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