THE CLOSING OF THE DUMP : CHRONOLOGY
February, 1963: West Covina City Council issues a dump permit for 130 acres owned by Home Savings & Loan Assn. Home’s attorney says trash will fill “unsightly ravines” and the mayor backs the proposal, saying that a park will be built on top when the dump is full. Despite opposition from residents, the council grants the permit for 12 years. Soon thereafter, BKK Corp. assumes operation of the dump, leasing the property.
December, 1968: Regulatory agencies authorize disposal of hazardous waste in the BKK landfill. Records of one regulatory agency show that the first load may have arrived earlier, in 1967. The amount of hazardous waste handled remains small until 1975.
January, 1971: West Covina Planning Commission approves expansion of the landfill to 583 acres and extends permit to 30 years, but BKK Corp. balks at donating the property when the dump is full. BKK Corp. says it cannot afford to buy and give away land costing $2 million to $3 million.
April, 1974: The City Council reports a growing number of complaints about dump odors from families that have moved into nearby homes.
June, 1976: The City Council extends the dump permit for 30 years, but abandons its demand for title to the property. Instead, the city imposes a tax on gross receipts, raising $110,000 the first year and more than $2 million a few years later.
December, 1978: Opposition to the dump grows. More than 900 residents sign petitions demanding that the city force BKK to control odors. The City Council instructs the Planning Commission to start hearings to revoke the permit unless odors are stopped. During 1978, BKK Corp. acquires ownership of the 583-acre dump, 471 adjoining acres in Walnut and an additional parcel in West Covina, raising holdings to nearly 1,200 acres.
February, 1979: BKK Corp. agrees to pay for a study by University of Southern California researchers to analyze dump odors.
September, 1980: USC researchers report that BKK’s odor problems are “essentially aesthetic in nature” and that toxic contaminants emitted from the dump are below level considered hazardous to health.
October, 1980: Top state officials declare flatly that there are no detectable health risks from gas emissions and that toxic chemicals cannot leak from the dump into the ground water.
November, 1980: Homeowners south of the dump announce that they will file a lawsuit against BKK Corp. and will circulate initiative petitions to ban the disposal of toxic waste in West Covina. Meanwhile, BKK has become the only remaining landfill for hazardous waste from Santa Barbara County to the Mexican border.
November, 1981: West Covina voters reject an initiative that would have closed BKK to toxic waste by a vote of 6,508 to 5,397. A subsequent attempt to recall council members over their handling of the BKK issue also fails.
June, 1983: State health department rejects the city’s request for a public hearing on the landfill’s safety, saying it “does not present an imminent and substantial endangerment to the environment.”
August, 1983: The federal Environmental Protection Agency reports that BKK’s system to collect leachate, liquid that has passed through the landfill, is deficient and says the landfill’s ability to prevent leaks is uncertain.
December, 1983: Citing a potential danger of ground water contamination, state and federal officals order BKK Corp., to solidify liquid hazardous waste before burying it. BKK agrees to spend $1.3 million on site studies.
April, 1984: State closes 119 of the 140 acres licensed for hazardous-waste disposal after learning that the site has a major geological defect that could allow wastes to escape.
July, 1984: Explosive levels of landfill gas are found near homes, prompting the evacuation of 21 families. State also finds high concentrations of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen, and 19 families are kept out of their homes for up to six months. City orders closure of the dump, but is overruled in Los Angeles Superior Court.
August, 1984: BKK Corp. announces that it will voluntarily stop accepting hazardous waste in November.
November, 1984: Disposal of hazardous waste ends with more than 3.4 million tons buried.
February, 1985: City of West Covina, five regulatory agencies and the BKK Corp. agree on steps to control odors, avoid ground water contamination and prevent gas leaks. Plan is incorporated in a stipulated preliminary injunction obtained by the city of West Covina against BKK Corp. in Los Angeles Superior Court.
November, 1985: BKK Corp. and West Covina sign agreement to close the landfill to all dumping in 10 years.
March, 1986: EPA and state health department order BKK to take new steps to prevent ground water and air contamination after concluding that “hazardous waste at the BKK facility may present an imminent . . . endangerment to human health.”
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