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California

Renewable-energy project at Glendale landfill will get further environmental review

The Scholl Canyon Landfill is receiving much less trash from the 7 different cities that are allowed
Heeding public concern, the city has decided to move forward with additional environmental review for a renewable energy project at the Scholl Canyon Landfill, pictured here in February 2012.
(Raul Roa / Glendale News-Press)

A proposed renewable-energy plant at the Scholl Canyon Landfill in Glendale will be getting a more thorough review to assuage fears expressed by some residents who think the project poses health and environmental hazards.

Glendale City Council members voted 4-1 last week to initiate an environmental impact report for the proposed 12-megawatt power-generation facility that would break down organic waste at the landfill into methane, or biogas, to generate electric energy.

The report is in response to residents who showed up in droves at a Planning Commission meeting in March to oppose the project, which only legally needed a less-intensive review, known as a mitigated negative declaration, to proceed.

This next step is to “vet out as completely as we can alternatives that may or may not have been looked at as thoroughly as folks would have liked in the first process,” said Steve Zurn, general manager of Glendale Water & Power.

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The EIR is expected to be completed in approximately 10 months, at which point there will be additional review and public comment before council members decide whether to adopt it.

The proposed project would also include construction of two 1,000-square-foot office buildings, a 60,000-gallon fire water tank, a 10,000-gallon water storage tank, a natural-gas pipeline system, four 840-square-foot engine-generator enclosures with 40-foot-tall exhaust stacks, a 40-foot-tall flare stack and a 384-square-foot power distribution center, according to a staff report.

While Glendale resident Marie Freeman said she was pleased an EIR will be conducted, she remained skeptical of the project she said was directly linked to another project she opposes — the repowering of the aging Grayson Power Plant.

“We’re particularly concerned about the effects of these collective projects on air quality,” said Freeman, a board member of the Glenoaks Homeowners Assn.

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Several speakers, including Freeman, spoke about their issue with Glendale Water & Power’s decision to flare off excess methane gas at the landfill.

This past spring, a decision was made to lean more heavily on flaring when a separate environmental report showed a concerning level of emissions related to the burning of the gas in turbines at the power plant.

“It’s not what I’d like to do with the gas. I’d like to put it to beneficial use, whatever that beneficial use may be,” said Zurn, adding that he hoped the EIR will address that.

Currently, methane gas released at landfills can be put in an internal combustion engine or turbine, or it can be flared. Legally, it must be controlled in one of those three ways, Zurn said.

Councilwoman Paula Devine, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said she would like to see the EIR conducted but objected to the selection of Stantec Consulting Services Inc. to carry out the job, citing residents’ concerns that the company has a conflict of interest.

Stantec carried out the project’s mitigated negative declaration, and Zurn said its familiarity with the project made the company a good candidate for the contract, although a regular bidding process was conducted.

“To disregard a committee’s decision … I need more than just, ‘Well, I heard someone say that there’s a rumor of them being conflicted,’” said Councilman Ara Najarian, adding that no evidence has been presented to substantiate that allegation.

Seidman writes for Times Community News.

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lila.seidman@latimes.com


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