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Water Pollution Concerns May Stall Plan for Dump : Environment: Planning director backs landfill expansion, but only if fears over contamination are allayed.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Sunshine Canyon Landfill should not undergo a major expansion until potential contamination problems for a main source of Los Angeles water are solved, according to a report by the Los Angeles County Planning Department.

The Metropolitan Water District stated in the report that the dump operator, Browning-Ferris Industries, has not allayed its fears that pollution could be seeping from the existing north San Fernando Valley dump toward an underground tunnel that carries water to about 3.5 million people in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

Representatives of the water district also said that they believe contaminants from Sunshine Canyon could leach into Valley ground water, despite BFI assurances to the contrary.

County Planning Director James E. Hartl continued to urge supervisors to support the controversial landfill expansion, which would allow dumping of up to 70 million more tons of trash, as long as the water concerns are solved.

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Hartl’s recommendations are scheduled for consideration Tuesday during a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors. The supervisors postponed their vote in November, saying they needed more information on the expansion proposal.

Sunshine Canyon is located near Granada Hills and straddles the city and county line. In the fall, the county Regional Planning Commission recommended that supervisors allow only a 17-million-ton increase in the county portion of the dump.

On Friday, Lynn Wessell, a community relations consultant working for BFI, said the company had been monitoring water at the site for years and had already installed an underground wall to stop the spread of pollutants.

Of Hartl’s advice to the board that they make expansion contingent on satisfying water agencies, Wessell said: “He is being conservative in approaching that issue and properly so. But there is not a problem.”

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Hartl has also called for increasing the pressure on Los Angeles city officials to permit expansion into their territory. City officials have rejected BFI’s expansion efforts during the past two years.

If the city does not change its stance, Hartl urged the supervisors to bar city trash trucks from the county portion of the landfill six months earlier than previously proposed, moving the date up to June 1992 instead of January 1993.

Greig Smith, a deputy to City Councilman Hal Bernson whose district includes the city portion of the dump, said Los Angeles does not now need the Sunshine space. He said if a new landfill is located in Elsmere Canyon, near Santa Clarita, the county threat will have no effect. The proposed Elsmere dump is under review by various state and county and local agencies.

“Despite what some are saying, we’re not in a crisis yet and if Elsmere opens then we won’t have a crisis, period,” Smith said.

Members of the North Valley Coalition, a group of residents near the dump who for years have fought to close it down, protested Friday outside Supervisor Ed Edelman’s Valley office. They said the supervisor, who through redistricting gained some of the neighborhoods near the dump, had not responded to their pleas that he oppose the expansion.

The county portion of the landfill continues to lie within Supervisor Mike Antonovich’s district.

The supervisors “have so much information and we just keep giving them more to show what a bad place the dump’s in--from an environmental standpoint, a health standpoint, a water standpoint,” said Rona Berger, a Granada Hills resident and coalition member.

Edelman’s press deputy, Joel Bellman, said the supervisor had not yet made a decision. “It’s very complicated,” Bellman said.

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