Operations Curtailed at Plant Accused of Emitting Foul Odors

Times Staff Writer

The South Coast Air Quality Management District on Monday reduced the permitted hours of operation at a Sun Valley waste-to-energy plant that has been accused of producing foul odors.

Under a temporary variance granted Monday after a three-day hearing, Pacific Lighting Energy Systems will be allowed to operate from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Monday through Friday and all through the weekend.

The plant thus will have to shut down during hours when nearby businesses are open, said Peter Greenwald, senior deputy air district counsel.

There had been no restrictions on the plant's operating hours.

The air district board also ordered Pacific Lighting to come up with a permanent plan to reduce odors from the plant, which generates electricity by burning gas from decaying trash in the inactive Penrose Pit landfill at 8301 Tujunga Ave.

The order requires the company to maintain five gas flares during the periods it is shut down to relieve gas pressure in the landfill.

Another hearing will be held Nov. 19 to determine whether the reduced hours have alleviated the problem, Greenwald said. At that hearing, the board could extend the variance or order the plant to close, he said.

Tony Heinrich, a spokesman for for Pacific Lighting, said the company is pleased with the variance, which will allow it to continue tests to determine the source of odors. Although conceding that odors are a problem in the area of the plant, he said the company believes that there could be other sources of them.

Pacific Lighting Energy Systems, a subsidiary of the holding company for the Southern California Gas Co., operates seven other electric power plants that run on landfill gas.

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