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Testing Ordered for Possible Dump Sites

Times Staff Writer

Four members of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday overrode the objections of Supervisor Mike Antonovich and ordered testing of potential toxic waste dump sites in his northern county district.

The move--in which Antonovich’s traditional allies on the board deserted him--illustrates the political parochialism that sometimes comes into play in selecting sites for unpopular projects.

Antonovich, whose district includes all three potential dump locations identified in a new county study, had been quietly urging county staff officials to add sites in other supervisors’ districts to the list of those that would undergo soil testing to determine whether they would adequately contain toxic wastes.

It was Antonovich’s traditional allies on the board, fellow conservatives Pete Schabarum and Deane Dana, who pushed for the testing in his district.

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“This is a larger project that can’t be dealt with on a parochial, district political basis,” Schabarum said. “And that’s what’s been happening.”

In a testy exchange on Tuesday, when the issue first came up, Schabarum charged that Antonovich’s opposition had thwarted additional testing of the top sites. Antonovich shot back that the charge was “completely inaccurate” and said Schabarum’s motion ordering testing in Antonovich’s district alone was “completely out of order.”

Antonovich said he was attempting to make the site selection process fair while preventing the rural and desert portion of his district, where the sites are located, from becoming the “dumping ground for Los Angeles County.”

The dispute grew out of a $500,000 study ordered last December by the board after closure of the county’s last remaining toxic landfill--the BKK dump in West Covina. Board members feared that a hazardous waste disposal crisis could develop and ordered a new, expedited countywide search for sites for toxic treatment and incineration plants, as well as dumps for the leftover toxic materials treated at the plants.

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Toxic wastes from Los Angeles County are now being dumped at Casmalia, in northern Santa Barbara County, and at Kettleman Hills in the western San Joaquin Valley.

The county study, which has not been completed, has preliminarily identified as top candidates for dumps Oso Canyon near Gorman; a county-owned wildflower preserve near Hi Vista, a small desert town east of Lancaster; and Potrero Canyon, in the hills east of Valencia near the Ventura County line.

The only site where geologic testing has occurred is the Hi Vista parcel, and that triggered a storm of protests from residents. “We have a clean community up here and we want to keep it that way,” said Sarge Moore, a spokesman for High Desert Citizens Against Pollution.

Dana noted that other board members will share in political problems when potential sites for treatment and incineration plants, which would supply the materials for the northern county dumps, are identified. “We are all going to have some hard decisions to make,” he said, “but we don’t need to procrastinate anymore . . . . The alternative is to start shutting down our industry.”

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