Bowing to public pressure, Los Angeles sanitation officials Tuesday dropped plans to send sewage sludge to the Lopez Canyon Landfill in Lake View Terrace.
“Today marks a major victory, but we still have work to do,” City Councilman Ernani Bernardi said, alluding to another city plan bitterly opposed by residents to enlarge the landfill for dumping garbage.
Sanitation Director Delwin A. Biagi announced his decision in a letter to Bernardi, whose district includes the dump site. Biagi said the landfill is no longer needed for sludge disposal because of alternatives that have arisen, such as sending some of the sludge to Arizona for use as a fertilizer for crops.
“As a result of some recent developments, we have decided to eliminate sludge disposal from consideration at Lopez Canyon,” Biagi said in his letter. He said the concerns expressed by Bernardi and “your constituents in the area have caused us to take a new and careful look” at sludge disposal at the landfill.
Mike Miller, assistant sanitation director, said in an interview that the sludge proposal also was dropped because it was delaying environmental studies on the more critical issue of expanding the landfill for disposal of household refuse.
The action also eliminated a potentially troublesome issue for Bernardi and Mayor Tom Bradley, who are up for reelection April 11.
Sanitation officials in December, 1987, proposed using the landfill for disposal of up to 1,200 tons of sludge a day. The city, forced by federal law to stop dumping sludge into Santa Monica Bay, has been trucking much of it to the BKK Landfill in West Covina. Some of it also is being sent to Ventura County for use as a landfill cover.
Sanitation officials proposed sending it to Lopez Canyon, the only city-owned landfill, in case other sites became unavailable. Bernardi fought the plan, arguing that the landfill already receives most of the city’s household trash.
Sludge is removed from raw sewage during treatment at city plants. It is sent through processes that consume some of the organisms that make sewage a threat to health. It becomes the consistency of mud before being loaded onto trucks for disposal.
Sanitation officials are proceeding with a proposal opposed by Bernardi and residents to extend the life of Lopez Canyon Landfill, due to close in 1992, until 2005 and possibly beyond for the disposal of household refuse.
The landfill now receives about 4,000 of the 7,000 tons a day of household refuse collected by the city. Residents have opposed the expansion because of noise, odors and additional truck traffic.
The city is preparing an environmental impact report on the proposal, which must be approved by the City Council and Bradley.