Landfill Poses Danger to Drinking Water Supply

* Leon Furgatch, in rebuking my commentary titled "Trashing Common Sense" (Nov. 14), disagrees with my statement that the Sunshine Canyon Landfill will contaminate our drinking water. Perhaps he'll believe the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Carl Boronkay, then MWD general manager, said in a 1991 letter to county planning authorities that he feared that when the hazardous landfill leachate leaks through the landfill liner, it will seep into the Balboa inlet tunnel located immediately east and running directly beneath the landfill's drainage path. This tunnel conveys drinking water to 3.5 million people and supplies water to the filtration plants (which cannot treat landfill leachate).

Myron Holburt, the MWD assistant general manager, said in a similar letter that because of a hydrological connection, "the Sunshine Canyon Landfill is a potential source of contamination of drinking water in the San Fernando Basin."

This hydrological connection is substantiated by Melvin Blevins, watermaster for the Upper Los Angeles River Area, but in the environmental impact report, he and others are incorrectly quoted as saying that there is no hydrological connection.

Robert Bean, a consulting geologist for the Bureau of Sanitation, found an alluvium path may exist that would allow ground water to flow from the landfill to the Upper Van Norman Lake.

How, then, did BFI get its permit from the regional water board? By presenting the erroneous, still uncorrected, environmental impact report as gospel truth.

As to the reservoir being impermeable, what damage will the active Santa Susana Fault do to the concrete lining? The 1971 Sylmar earthquake cracked the Van Norman Reservoir so severely it had to be drained.

Mr. Furgatch's final misconception is that "airborne contamination will be negated by the nearby Sylmar treatment plant." The uncovered reservoir holds the treated, filtrated water that goes into homes--water the Department of Health worries will be contaminated by wind-blown material. Suspended water particles will shield disease organisms from the disinfectants. Organic material will mix with chlorine to form carcinogenic trihalomethanes.

As for Robert Stone of the California Waste Management Board, who wrote disavowing a statement I attributed to him, he has forgotten telling my wife on Oct. 15 that Los Angeles has enough landfill space for about 15 years.

He also forgot, when looking over my landfill estimate capacity figures three days before I presented them to the county supervisors, to mention any of the points he made in his letter to the editor (Nov. 21) that rebutted my article. He suggested changes to the accompanying remarks but not to the figures, as they did not appear to be too far off. Now, suddenly, his raw data (the basis for my figures) cannot be used to assess remaining landfill capacity. I don't buy it.

The county should use an independent, outside agency to assess our "landfill crisis" before any more forests become dumps.


Granada Hills

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