Trash-to-Energy Project Cleared by Special State Law

Times Staff Writer

Gov. George Deukmejian has signed into law a measure that clears the way for construction of a $66-million trash-to-energy plant on Terminal Island.

The project, known as the Southeast Resource Recovery Facility, had become caught in a political struggle between the state Waste Management Board and Los Angeles County. Under state law, the board cannot approve projects in counties that do not have updated waste plans, and Los Angeles County has not yet adopted a new plan.

The new law allows the City of Long Beach to proceed with the project without final approval from the Waste Management Board.

The bill, introduced by Sen. Ralph Dills (D-Gardena), passed the Senate 35-0 and the Assembly 70-3 last month. Deukmejian signed it Thursday and it became effective immediately.


Long Beach officials had estimated that the delays caused by lack of approval from the waste board were adding $338,000 a month to the project’s financing and construction costs.

Michael Arnold, Sacramento lobbyist for Long Beach, said he was pleased that the project can now “begin expeditiously.”

The plant, to be built by Long Beach and Los Angeles County Sanitation District No. 2 on Terminal Island, is to burn about 600 tons of refuse a day to produce electricity that Southern California Edison Co. will purchase.

In April, the state waste board had agreed to issue a permit for the plant, but only if the county adopted a waste plan. That action, in effect, stalled the Long Beach proposal.


Dills introduced the legislation to clear the logjam.

Sherman Roodzant, waste board chairman, applauded Deukmejian’s action, saying, “It solves a legal dilemma for us.”

But he warned that the county must agree to a waste plan or “the next Los Angeles County project to come before the board will face the same problems” as the Long Beach plant.

The updated waste management plan has been delayed by a Los Angeles city-county dispute over the locations of landfills.