Rats Reported at Trash Facility : L.A. Moves to Close Wilmington Plant

Times Staff Writer

Based on a year of alleged violations involving rat infestation, poor water drainage and improper storage of waste, Los Angeles city officials said last week that they will attempt to close a Wilmington waste-transfer station.

The Board of Public Works directed the city attorney's office to seek a court order to shut down the Adivari Transfer Station in the 1700 block of Robidoux Street.

The facility, operated by Adivari Disposal Co., separates recyclable items from about 100 tons of trash hauled there each day from businesses and other non-residential customers, primarily in the harbor area. Garbage that cannot be recycled is then hauled to the BKK landfill in West Covina.

Tony Adivari, who owns and operates the facility, denied any wrongdoing and said that his company will fight the city's action.

"We are not doing anything wrong here," Adivari said. "We are not doing anything that everybody else isn't doing. The inspectors come down here expecting us to look like an ice cream store, but this is a solid-waste-transfer station."

Maria Elena Hernandez, who has lived about a block from the facility since 1960, complained in a letter to the board that the transfer station has made living in the predominantly industrial neighborhood unbearable for the half-dozen or so families there.

"Rodents are now closer to our homes," she wrote. "There are so many now that they are a threat to our children. There are lots of flies. The odors are intolerable."

City inspectors, in a report prepared for the board, listed a series of what they called "recurring violations" of state regulations governing the handling of solid waste. The inspectors said they discovered live and dead rats in the salvage material and garbage, sea gulls scavenging waste, waste stored longer than 24 hours, puddles of water in the unloading area, waste piled higher than fences around the facility, and litter in nearby streets. They also said that trucks used the facility before 6 a.m.

Action Falls Short

The inspectors said Adivari had been notified of the alleged violations and told what needs to be done to correct them, but that corrective steps had been unsatisfactory.

The city can normally revoke operating permits without going to court, but Assistant City Atty. John Haggerty said that the Adivari Transfer Station is a special case. The facility, which does not have a permit, has been operating under court authority granted in 1984.

City officials had tried to put the transfer station out of business in the early 1980s because it lacked a permit and because it was situated in an area not planned for a waste-handling facility. Adivari, who was in business before permits were required, went to court to get permission to remain open. After a prolonged battle, a judge allowed him to stay in business, provided he followed state regulations.

Haggerty said that the city will argue in court that Adivari has not lived up to his end of the deal.

But Adivari said the board's decision to take him to court is just another example of harassment by city officials. He acknowledged that he sometimes stores garbage longer and piles it higher than he should, but he traces that to a lack of landfill space. He also acknowledged that his trucks often leave in the early-morning hours, but noted that some contracts call for service at such times.

Can't Stop the Rain

As for rodents and sea gulls, Adivari said that he has a continuing effort to control them, but that they are all over the harbor area and impossible to keep away from his property. And when it rains, he said, he cannot stop the water from forming puddles.

"They are citing me for everything because they don't want me here," Adivari said. "If there is a piece of tissue paper on the street when they happen to drive up, they write me up."

Haggerty said it will probably take about a month to prepare a case against Adivari and schedule a Superior Court hearing. In the meantime, the transfer station will remain open.

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