Firm to appeal landfill ruling
WHITTIER — A company working with the County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County to build a massive landfill outside Joshua Tree National Park will appeal a recent court ruling to stop the project, a company executive said Wednesday. Kaiser Ventures CEO Rick Stoddard told board members at the sanitation districts meeting the proposed dump is environmentally sound, and implied U.S. District Judge Robert Timlin’s ruling in favor of environmentalists opposed to the landfill was a fluke. “We will challenge this decision,” he said. National Parks Conservation Association spokesman Howard Gross urged the sanitation districts to abandon plans to build the 4,400-acre dump — the world’s largest, he said — on a former mine pit surrounded on three sides by the national park. Mesquite Landfill was purchased by the sanitation districts in 2002 and is expected to open in 2010. John Gulledge, the districts’ Solid Waste Management Department head, said they would study Gross’s findings and consider them. But he said the surplus Gross calculated doesn’t account for the need for landfill space beyond 2018, and that it may not be possible to increase the recycling rate much more. “We have a long-term need for disposal capacity. In the long-term, we need two landfills,” he said. — Shirley Hsu can be reached at (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306, or by e-mail at [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! If built, the site would take about 20,000 tons of trash a day from Los Angeles County for 117 years. Along with the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County, the two mega-dumps are part of the sanitation districts’ “waste-by-rail” plan to ship garbage by rail east after a number of county landfills close, including the local Puente Hills Landfill in 2013. Gross argued the Eagle Mountain Landfill in Riverside County would degrade the park, threaten endangered species including the desert tortoise and bighorn sheep, and upset the ecosystem by inflating the predator population. He said air and groundwater pollution would also affect the park. He argued the landfill is unnecessary — with the Mesquite landfill’s capacity of 20,000 tons per day, the districts would have a surplus of at least 2,600 tons per day by 2018, he said, if the current recycling rate remains at 50 percent. If the districts were able to increase that rate, the surplus would be even greater, Gross said. Last month’s court decision stopped a land exchange between the Bureau of Land Management and Kaiser, needed for the project to proceed. The judge found the BLM failed to fully analyze the landfill’s impacts on the national park and did not adequately consider alternatives.