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Green-waste tech could cut down trash at Scholl Canyon Landfill, officials say

The City Council on Tuesday unanimously agreed to study the idea of having new green-waste technology at Scholl Canyon Landfill that could not only generate revenue, but also cut down on the amount of trash being dumped there.

A six-month study will be conducted by Waste Resources Inc. and OWS, Inc. to examine the feasibility of implementing an anaerobic digester, a technology that breaks down organic waste into methane.

“It will give us a much more potent methane gas that we can later decide what to do with,” City Manager Scott Ochoa told council members.

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Those options range from using it to generate electricity at Grayson Power Plant to selling it for profit and flaring it, which basically means venting it into the air while meeting legal environmental standards, said Steve Zurn, general manager of Glendale Water & Power.

Anaerobic digestion creates methane gas that’s richer than the kind produced by decomposing waste in the landfill. The methane gas currently produced at Scholl Canyon has been used to generate power at Grayson since the 1990s, Zurn said.

Zurn has talked for a number of years about how green-waste technology could further reduce the amount of waste being dumped at the landfill and its potential to extend the property’s life.

The 535-acre Scholl Canyon Landfill opened in 1961. At its peak, 1,400 tons of trash were trucked there daily, which would have meant the landfill would reach capacity by 2021.

However, waste-reduction practices have lowered that amount to 700 tons a day, on average, and increased the landfill’s expanded lifespan through the 2030s.

Councilman Zareh Sinanyan said it’s crucial to review potential green-waste innovations.

“The issue of expansion or non-expansion at Scholl Canyon is a very important one,” he said. “We keep talking about it having to confront this issue. Undoubtedly, it’s my understanding that an anaerobic plant will minimize the amount of waste out there and the amount of waste that goes into the ground.”

There’s currently an environmental-impact report being compiled about possibly expanding the landfill, but it likely won’t head to the council for consideration until next spring, Zurn said.

He said there’s no rush to move forward with a possible expansion, and that staffers are taking their time to respond to the many public comments that were filed about the report.

Councilman Vartan Gharpetian asked whether anaerobic digestion could change the way people get rid of their waste.

Zurn said it’s likely residents will have the option to get rid of their organic waste — such as food — by tossing it in their existing green-waste bins.

“Our intention is to take the existing organic green-waste program and tie food waste into it … Our intention is to make it as simple for the user as possible,” he said.

A report identifying the feasibility of building an anaerobic digester at Scholl Canyon Landfill is expected to take up to six months.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian


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