The Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Val Verde has been approved for a temporary tonnage increase so it can accept non-hazardous debris from the Woolsey Fire.
The Board of Supervisors approved the 120-day increase last week. The motion by Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, whose district was heavily impacted by the Woolsey Fire, states: “To accommodate the generated debris (from the fire), California’s Office of Emergency Services and CalRecycle are setting up as many regional landfills as possible to accept the fire and mudflow debris material from Los Angeles and Ventura counties.”
The Chiquita Canyon Landfill and the Sunshine Landfill in Sylmar would be used if and when the landfills closest to the Woolsey Fire zone in Calabasas and Simi Valley reach capacity, according to Chris Perry, 5th District Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s planning deputy.
During the 120 days, the Chiquita Landfill is approved to increase its intake by 20 percent, from 233,333 tons to 280,000 tons.
The decision has raised concerns among some environmentalists that the excess debris might be contaminated with hazardous waste.
Lynne Plambeck, president of Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, stated in a January 25 letter to the board: “As the county is aware, this fire burned through the Santa Susana Field Lab and may contain hazardous and radioactive materials. We request that extra monitoring be conducted on loads from these areas.”
Plambeck also sounded the alarm that county officials are ignoring a requirement in the permit for the landfill, which was recently allowed to expand.
“It has now been over a year and a half since the expansion of this landfill was approved,” Plambeck said in the letter. “We bring to your attention that the Chiquita Canyon operator has still not complied with condition No. 68 as required. … Nor does it seem that the county has chosen to enforce it.”
The condition cited by Plambeck states: “The permittee shall conduct air quality monitoring at areas surrounding the facility. The permittee shall be required to identify and hire an independent consultant … to work with (the South Coast Air Quality Management District and community watchdogs). The consultant shall identify locations surrounding the landfill in the community of Val Verde, nearby centers of employment and schools within a five-mile radius of the landfill to install air monitoring stations. The consultant hired must have the ability to read the monitoring results and have the results analyzed by a qualified lab. Air monitoring shall be continuous.”
Plambeck asserts there is still no additional air monitoring or health assessment, and no formation of a community advisory (CAC) panel.
County officials insist there are safeguards in place to ensure the safety of nearby residents.
“I know there’s some concerns in the community about this material being toxic and hazardous and so forth,” Perry said. “There’s a three-step process before any of this gets to the landfill: the first thing that happens is the State Department of Toxic Substances Control, along with County Fire, walks through and assesses if there’s any household hazardous waste. If there is, it is immediately removed. will not end up in landfills, it’s not allowed in landfills. They have special designated places where they put those, but it’s not Chiquita.”
He said once the hazardous waste is removed, it continues through a stringent process of testing for other contaminants, such as asbestos and any radioactive material.
Also last week, the Board of Supervisors approved a $4.5 million contract with UltraSystems Environmental Inc. to assist in monitoring the Chiquita Canyon Landfill for at least five years. The landfill is to pay the cost.
Stephen K. Peeples contributed to this report.