L.A. Defies State, Plans Slight Increase in Dumping at Lopez

Times Staff Writer

The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation on Wednesday renounced what it described as its voluntary compliance with a state request to limit trash dumping at Lopez Canyon Landfill, saying it would no longer abide by the ceiling.

The change in policy--another step in a running dispute between city and state agencies over the dump--is not likely to lead to large increases in the amount of trash taken to Lopez Canyon, city officials said.

During an April meeting among city, county and state officials, the city estimated that it was dumping an average of 4,000 tons--about 400 garbage truckloads--daily at the northeast San Fernando Valley dump. City officials had agreed to maintain that level until disputes with the state over a 1978 permit, which referred to a 3,100-ton-a-day limit, could be settled.

Since then a state order restricting operations at the dump has been issued, but that order limits the height of garbage mounds and the number of trucks allowed to dump at the landfill, not daily tonnage. The city is challenging the order, issued by the state Waste Management Board, in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In a letter delivered Wednesday to the county Department of Health Services, which polices the dump for the state, city sanitation Director Delwin A. Biagi said that the 4,000-ton limit was never formalized and that the city may begin dumping more than that amount from time to time.

More in Each Truck

Even though the landfill is abiding by a state-imposed limit of 400 trucks a day, Biagi said the same number of trucks may be able to carry about 75 to 100 tons more than the present 4,000 tons a day--an increase of about 2.5%.

Edward J. Avila, president of the city Board of Public Works, said terminating the informal limit stemmed partly from the state's unwillingness to negotiate on its order attempting to impose the other limits.

"We are not trying to be bullheaded and totally unreasonable," Avila said. "But frankly, they are being bullheaded and totally unreasonable."

Waste Management Board spokesman Chris Peck said he had not yet seen Biagi's letter and could not comment on it. He said the state wants to see the tonnage at the dump scaled back to 3,100 tons per day.

Charles Coffee, who heads the county's solid waste management program, said the additional amount of trash that the city will be able to squeeze into 400 trucks is not significant.

However, anti-dump activist Rob Zapple said the city is "playing with semantics to circumvent the intent of the law."

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