Plan calls for open-space buffer near dump

first_imgWilliamson said she hadn’t seen the detailed plans, but she hoped some land could be set aside for youth sports and a permanent home for Simi Valley Days. “What is Waste Management going to do for the residents of Simi Valley?” she said. “Are they going to put in soccer fields? Are they going to put in baseball fields?” As for Alamos Canyon, Misty Herrin, a spokeswoman for the Nature Conservancy in Los Angeles, said her organization has been concerned for years about preserving the open land west of the landfill. “We are talking with (Waste Management) about preserving a big chunk of this canyon. It’s a really crucial wildlife corridor,” she said. “This is one of the great examples of an area that is beautiful and ecologically important. Our number one mission is to protect biodiversity. In terms of native plant and animal habitat, (Alamos Canyon) is really critical.” One reason Alamos Canyon is important, officials say, is because it feeds into an underpass and a tunnel under the 118 Freeway that can be used by animals moving between the Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Monica Mountains. Mountain lions, among other animals, have been tracked there. SIMI VALLEY – When Waste Management Inc. announced Wednesday that it was applying to Ventura County to double the size of the Simi Valley Landfill, company officials said they wanted to set aside 516 acres around the landfill as a buffer area and wildlife habitat. And they also said they were in discussions with the Nature Conservancy to preserve Alamos Canyon, an open area of more than 700 acres between the landfill and Moorpark College and north of the Ronald Reagan Freeway. But news of the potential expansion heightened concerns by some critics that there would be increasing dump-truck traffic in the area, more opportunities for filling up the landfill with trash from outside Ventura County and the possible disappearance of cherished open space. “Alamos Canyon is so visible, people would have an absolute fit if they tried to touch it,” said Simi Valley City Councilwoman Barbra Williamson, who was in the process of forming a citizens committee on the landfill when the expansion plans were announced. Waste Management filed its request for expanding the landfill with the county Wednesday, proposing to double the area where the trash is actually dumped from 185 acres to 371 acres. Without the expansion, company officials said, Ventura County’s two landfills will reach capacity in about 20 years. And under current dumping permits, the county would be generating more trash than it is permitted to receive in three to five years. Mike Smith, market area general manager for Waste Management, said his company is encouraging residents to take tours of the landfill to get a clear idea of where it is, how it operates and what the expansion would involve. “We deeply value the relationship we have with our customers and we encourage anyone with questions to contact us,” he said. The ultimate decision on the landfill permit is up to the county Board of Supervisors. Williamson said there should be time to review all proposals carefully, and there is no need to rush to judgment. “The people of Simi Valley are going to be more affected by this than anybody,” she said, promising to go forward with her efforts to get the community involved in the decision process through the committee she is forming. The Simi Valley Landfill and the Toland Road Landfill, between Santa Paula and Fillmore, are the county’s two main disposal sites, with the Simi Valley Landfill meeting about 60 percent of the county’s disposal needs. In 2004, Waste Management purchased 2,800 acres adjacent to the landfill from the Unocal Corp. and announced at that time its plan to double the size of the dump. But it wasn’t until Wednesday that Waste Management filed a formal expansion plan with the county. The landfill is located in the hills at the northwestern end of Simi Valley, north of Madera Road and the 118. Although there are panoramic views of Alamos Canyon from the freeway, the landfill area is mostly hidden, and many local residents don’t know exactly where it is. Under the plans, the dump area would be expanded directly north and remain about the same distance as it is now from homes, officials said. The landfill operators would continue to maintain the 9,250-ton limit currently placed on the amount of trash brought into the landfill each day, but the ratio of trash to recyclable items placed in the dump would change. The plan involves doubling the amount of trash deposited there each day from 3,000 tons to 6,000 tons, with the remaining 3,250 reserved for recyclables. The old G.I. Rubbish hauling operations at 195 W. Los Angeles Ave. in Simi Valley would be moved to the landfill site to reduce truck traffic on city streets. This would involve moving 200 employees and would increase traffic at the landfill, which is accessed directly from the freeway at Madera. Overall, Waste Management officials estimate, the number of daily vehicle round trips would increase to 1,297, or 475 more than the current landfill permit allows. The number of vehicles crossing landfill scales for disposal would increase from the currently permitted 822 to 897 per day, said company officials, who noted that the county will conduct its own traffic analysis. The company also would build an environmental collection center and other upgrades designed to improve the landfill’s recycling capabilities and help keep out hazardous waste and consumer electronics. Waste Management is asking the county to permit the recycling of construction and demolition waste, which would help businesses recover reusable commodities. The landfill’s gas-to-energy program, which collects methane from the landfill to generate electricity, would produce enough electricity to power 6,250 homes, instead of the current 2,500. In response to critics concerned about filling the landfill with trash from other counties, Waste Management officials said about 75 percent of the trash deposited at the landfill comes from Ventura County, with the remainder coming from Santa Barbara County and parts of Los Angeles County, including Malibu, Calabasas, Woodland Hills and Agoura Hills. Some trash generated in Ventura County winds up in other counties, including hazardous waste, used oil, medical waste, sewage sludge and recyclable materials. The landfill is regulated by government agencies, including Ventura County Environmental Health, the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, the California Integrated Waste Management Board, the state Regional Water Resources Control Board and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. [email protected] (805) 583-7602 Information For more information about Waste Management Inc.’s proposed expansion of the Simi Valley Landfill, call (805)579-7267, Ext. 239, or visit www.keepingventuracountyclean.com. The Web site has links to expansion plan details and a map. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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