Expansion of Spadra Dump Approved for Trash-Energy Plant

Times Staff Writer

A proposal to greatly expand the Spadra Landfill on Pomona's western border was unanimously approved Thursday by the county Board of Supervisors, clearing the way for a possible trash-to-energy plant at the site by 1990.

The expansion, a joint project of the county, the County Sanitation Districts and Cal Poly Pomona, would add 115 acres of Cal Poly land to the 164-acre county-owned landfill.

The expansion area, directly northwest of Spadra, includes a 45-acre parcel used as a landfill until 1976, and 70 acres of land in a canyon previously used for cattle grazing.

The two Cal Poly parcels are in west Pomona and in adjacent unincorporated territory bordering the city of Walnut.

State Approval Needed

Although the project still faces approval by several state agencies, Supervisor Pete Schabarum, in whose district the landfill lies, noted that the plan has been widely supported by officials in Walnut and Pomona.

"I hope maybe this could be emulated somewhere else in the county," said Schabarum, who is pressing for new landfill sites as the county's existing landfill capacity rapidly diminishes. "The board (is) lucky that there is this kind of support and non-controversy around this project."

Under the joint agreement, the county Sanitation Districts would allow Cal Poly to use 20 acres of prime agricultural land adjacent to the landfill for research, in exchange for the county's use of Cal Poly land, said Mark Volmert, Schabarum's deputy.

Volmert said Spadra, which currently accepts up to 2,500 tons of trash a day, would not accept noticeably more garbage per day. However, he said, the life of the landfill, now scheduled for closure in 1988, would be substantially increased.

He said a trash-to-energy plant proposed for completion in 1990 would burn 1,000 tons of refuse a day, reducing garbage to an ash residue only 10% of its original volume. That residue would be dumped in the landfill.

"If the trash-to-energy plant is constructed, the site could remain active almost indefinitely, because the plant would burn up almost all the garbage," he said.

Even if the trash-to-energy plant is not constructed, he said, the increased acreage would allow the landfill to remain open for another 19 years.

In addition, Volmert said, the county plans to construct an expanded system for collecting methane gas created by the landfill's rotting garbage, and convert the gas into energy at a plant on the site. The energy would be sold to local utilities.

While the project has been supported by local officials, several residents spoke against the plan at public hearings held late last year in the Pomona and Walnut areas. Many residents argued that the expansion would create odors, noise, air pollution and possible health hazards.

Near Residential Area

Residents also complained that the landfill would be in direct view of nine homes in the Shea Homes development currently under construction next to the proposed expansion area. However, no opposition was voiced by residents at Thursday's public hearing.

According to an environmental impact report on the project, the expansion's most noticeable effect will be upon the natural topography of the area.

Elevations at the existing landfill and at the 45-acre closed landfill range from 770 to 900 feet above sea level, county officials said. Similarly, the 70-acre canyon parcel ranges from 745 feet at its floor to 958 feet at its highest ridge.

However, under the county's plan, the entire terrain would be covered to a height of about 925 feet, with three small peaks--one as high as 1,000 feet--designed to "blend into existing adjacent topography," a county report said.

The county Regional Planning Commission found that the topographical changes were "unavoidable environmental effects of the project" that were outweighed by the benefits of the expansion.

County officials said they evaluated 11 alternate sites and rejected all but Spadra.

If the expansion is not approved by the state, Pomona-area garbage would be hauled to the BKK landfill in West Covina or Scholl Canyon landfill in Glendale, costing an additional $1.7 million to $5 million a year, according to a report by the Regional Planning Commission.

However, the Glendale and West Covina landfills are scheduled to close in a few years. After that, hauling to other distant landfills could cost $13 million a year, the commission estimated.

Officials of the County Sanitation Districts are pressing for quick approval of the expansion proposal partly because Spadra is expected to run out of fill dirt--used to cover each new layer of garbage--late this year.

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