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Tons of concern over landfill expansion proposals

Scholl Canyon residents shared concerns this week about proposals to expand the nearby landfill and offered some suggestions on how to reduce dependence on the site.

More than 100 people headed to Glenoaks Park Monday for the meeting on an environmental impact report that examined two methods to lengthen Scholl Canyon Landfill’s life span. One option involves increasing the height of the landfill by 12%, while the second would do this and cut into 9 acres of hillside.

Steve Zurn, the city’s public works director, said during the meeting that officials are not seeking to pull permits for the project in the near future.

The first idea would add 13 years of life to the dump, while the second would add 19 years, according to the report.


The city-owned landfill, which opened in 1961, is permitted to take in 3,400 tons of garbage per day. But recycling efforts and the recession have lead to only about 700 tons dumped per day, said Zurn.

At the current rate, the landfill would reach capacity by 2032, he said, noting about half of the tonnage intake is made up of trash from Pasadena and other neighboring cities.

If the site was to close, it could cost Glendale residents three times more to have their trash picked up and shipped to another landfill, he said.

During the meeting, resident Isabelle Meyer suggested ending its contract with other cities to extend the landfill’s usability.


“For the last 20 years of the landfill’s life, let it be open only to Glendale residents, or ideally Scholl Canyon residents, since we’re the ones footing the bill environmentally,” she said. “We’ve done our share, let people take their trash somewhere else and Glendale can fill it up … and we can cap it and that’s it.”

Zurn responded that idea has been brought up before, but it would ultimately be a Glendale City Council decision.

He added the city makes about $5.5 million a year from taking in garbage from other communities, an amount he said goes toward funding local capital-improvement projects.

But forcing cities like Pasadena to look elsewhere for dumping may prove difficult. There are only four other landfills in L.A. County and cutting off Scholl Canyon might not be as good for the environment as one might think, said Debra Bogdanoff, a senior engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, which staffs the landfills.

She said the vertical-only option one is an environmentally superior alternative to closing the landfill because cities close to Glendale that relied on the landfill would have to truck their trash farther distances to sites in other parts of the county, contributing to pollution.

However, expansion of any type has its own impact.

The landfill expansion could worsen air quality by increasing pollution levels, according to the environmental report.

Resident Mark Fernandez said the city should look to investigating newer and less environmentally invasive methods of getting rid of trash, instead of continuing to take the 1961 approach and focusing on just storing it.


He said it would take some time, but implementing those new technologies would gradually trim the tonnage that’s shipped to Scholl Canyon Landfill.

Zurn said as early as July, the city could start to employ a process call anaerobic digestion, which involves placing organic material in vessels designed to chemically speed up decomposition. With 18 years to go until capacity is reached, there would certainly be more attempts at finding better ways to get rid of trash, he said.

At least one attendee felt this technology might provide the best solution.

“The city and us can work together to get this new technology in place and replace the landfill … I’m very certain that in my mind, the expansion will never happen,” said Jerry Rankin, a board member of the Glenoaks Canyon Home Owners Assn.

The public comment period on the environmental impact report has been extended through May 30.

Comments must be sent to Debra Bogdanoff at 1955 Workman Mill Road, Whittier CA 90601 or emailed to Bogdanoff can also be reached at (562) 908-4288, Ext. 2734.

To read the complete report, visit

Follow Arin Mikailian on Twitter: @ArinMikailian.



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