State Halts Waste Plant Proceedings

Times Staff Writer

Plans to build a waste-to-energy plant in Irwindale suffered a setback last week when the state Energy Commission suspended proceedings on the permit application until the developer finds ways to compensate for emissions that exceed air quality standards.

The action came after the developer, Pacific Waste Management Corp., conceded that it had been unable to meet environmental requirements because not enough companies had agreed to offset air emissions expected from the Irwindale plant.

Under the offset system, the developer can compensate for certain pollutants that its plant would release into the air by paying other companies to reduce their emissions.

For example, Pacific Waste could acquire offsets by paying a company in Wilmington for shutting down pollution-emitting equipment or installing extra pollution-control devices. However, because the formula for computing offset credits takes distance from the plant site into account, Pacific Waste would not receive as much credit as it would have if it had obtained the offsets from companies nearer Irwindale.


Suspension Continues

Garrett Shean, commission hearing officer, said permit proceedings will remain suspended until the company meets the offset requirement. If the company cannot comply by Oct. 1, he said, the commission will consider terminating the proceedings.

The suspension means there will be an indefinite deferral of the deadline for the commission to decide whether to issue a permit for construction of the controversial plant, which would burn 3,000 tons of trash a day to create electricity for sale to Southern California Edison Co. Before the suspension, the decision deadline was Feb. 18, 1987.

Steven Broiles, attorney for Pacific Waste, said the company is attempting to obtain the required emission offsets and hopes to complete negotiations soon.


Robert R. Pease, supervising engineer with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, said Pacific Waste must provide offsets for reactive organic gases, oxides of nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, suspended particulates and lead. The offsets must equal 110% of the expected emissions of each pollutant.

In a report to the state Energy Commission, Pease said that Pacific Waste has obtained 84% of the required offsets for sulfur dioxide, 53% for carbon monoxide, 39% for oxides of nitrogen, 29% for particulates and none for lead. He said the air quality district disallowed the offsets that Pacific Waste negotiated for reactive organic gases, but that ruling is being appealed. Pease’s report to the commission did not disclose where the companies that have provided offsets to Pacific Waste are located.

Evaluating Air Emissions

Although air emissions are being evaluated by the air quality district, the authority to decide whether to permit the plant rests with the Energy Commission.


Meeting air emission requirements is just one obstacle facing Pacific Waste. The company is also awaiting a ruling on the deadline for lining up a trash supply for the plant. Pacific Waste has asked the commission committee conducting the permit hearings to reconsider an earlier order requiring the company to negotiate trash contracts before the permit process proceeds further.

The commission staff contends that it must know where the trash will be coming from in order to analyze traffic impact, alternative means of disposing of the garbage and other factors. Pacific Waste contends that it will have no difficulty obtaining trash from San Gabriel Valley haulers, given the diminishing capacity of dumps in the area, but that it is impractical to obtain agreements now, more than three years before the plant could open.

Shean said the commission committee will rule on Pacific Waste’s appeal on the waste contract issue soon, probably within two weeks.



Table shows pollutants that are expected to be emitted from the proposed Irwindale waste-to-energy plant. The plant cannot be built unless its developers arrange for pollution reductions by other industries amounting to 110% of the emissions from the Irwindale facility. Data from South Coast Air Quality Management District shows the amount of the reductions, called emission offsets, obtained so far and the percentage of offsets still needed.

Expected Offset Offset Emissions Required Obtained Percent (pounds (pounds (pounds of Offset Pollutant per day) per day) per day) Lacking Reactive organic gases 216 238 0 100 Lead 10 11 0 100 Suspended particulates 1,046 1,151 336 71 Oxides of nitrogen 7,200 7,920 3,061 61 Carbon monoxide 2,260 2,486 1,326 47 Sulfur dioxide 3,232 3,556 3,003 16