The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors last night voted unanimously to expand the Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Santa Clarita Valley despite opposition from activists and some residents.
The ruling is a victory for Waste Connections, which sought expansion of the landfill to extend its life beyond its projected closure by November 2019.
There are some conditions for Waste Connections, which operates the landfill. It must hire a consultant to monitor air quality near the landfill, create a complaints hotline and convert the site into a park after it closes.
On April 19, Waste Connections received initial approval for the ladfill expansion, and residents and local organizations began fighting back against the county’s decision and arguing that the landfill should close as it was intended to because its environmental issues could put their health at risk. The residents and organizations took place in a protest following the county’s decision, and the organizations threatened to submit appeals against the expansion approval.
The Chiquita Canyon Landfill is operating beyond its maximum ton capacity via a temporary waiver granted by the director of regional planning and will remain operating under that wavier until a final decision about the landfill expansion is determined.
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Industry and business representatives called Chiquita Canyon a “model landfill” that contributes to the local economy and serves a necessary function. Environmental and civic activists criticized the board as capitulating to corporate interests at the expense of residents’ health. One nine-year-old told the supervisors that poor air quality in the area had caused her asthma attacks.
At the end of public comments, Supervisor Kathryn Barger — whose district includes Chiquita Canyon — introduced a compromise motion that she said “makes considerable concessions to ensure our communities are protected and receive maximum benefit while ensuring that a well-run landfill keeps its gate open for business.”
Barger received $4,500 in campaign contributions from Waste Connections in 2015 and 2016. The public relations firm that represents the landfill also gave her $2,500 in 2015 and 2016.
The motion declared the board’s intent to approve the project, with requirements that Waste Connections hire a consultant to continuously monitor air quality in locations immediately surrounding the landfill, establish a hotline for complaints and turn the site into a park after it closes.