Project Will Teach Firms Safe Toxic-Waste Disposal

Times Staff Writer

A coalition of public officials and private companies has announced the start of a program to teach small-business operators how to safely dispose of toxic waste.

The program, scheduled to begin next month, is a scaled-down version of a larger proposal to curb improper waste disposal.

Wes Gendron, operations manager for the California Safety Council, which will conduct the program, said live and videotaped lectures will be offered, along with a newsletter on proper handling of small quantities of solvent, acid and petroleum wastes.

Gendron said the council will also inaugurate a “hot line.”


The plan was announced at a North Hollywood press conference attended by Los Angeles City Councilman Howard Finn and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. It was one of several recommendations made in a Southern California Assn. of Governments report last year on how to reduce ground-water contamination in the east San Fernando Valley.

Concerns about water contamination emerged several years ago with the discovery in public wells of small amounts of trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene, solvents suspected of causing cancer. Officials believe the contamination has been caused at least partly by improper disposal or accidental spills of liquid waste over a period of years.

The educational effort was originally seen as an adjunct to a government-sponsored program to collect hazardous waste from small businesses. The collection service was to use a temporary transfer station to accumulate waste for eventual shipment to recycling or disposal sites.

However, the transfer station concept was rejected last July by a Los Angeles City Council committee because of concerns about costs and Finn’s complaint that four of the five potential transfer station sites were in his district. The committee then asked the city’s Bureau of Sanitation to propose a way to offer the service without building a transfer station.


But Bob Alpern, principal sanitation engineer of the bureau, said that his office is not pursuing the service because of the failure last year of state legislation that would have allowed the city to hire a private firm to haul away hazardous waste. As a result, officials have turned to the educational program.

To encourage small-business operators to sign up for the classes, the Los Angeles City Council will be asked to reduce certain licensing or refuse-collection fees for those who take part, Gendron said.

Gendron said the $25,000 needed for the program was provided by both public and private groups, including the city and county of Los Angeles, Anheuser-Busch, Atlantic Richfield Co., the Department of Water and Power, the Metropolitan Water District, Southern California Edison Co. and the Valley Industry and Commerce Assn.