San Francisco's plan to redevelop landfill sparks debate

Dive Brief:

  • California's San Mateo County officials are debating whether the Oyster Point landfill site, six miles from San Francisco International Airport, should be redeveloped. Supporters of the redevelopment claim waste that accumulated at the landfill during times of lax containment regulations pose environmental and safety hazards for the area. The other side says the site is monitored regularly and the claims are unfounded.
  • The landfill, owned by South San Francisco, was once used to burn garbage; later, neighboring property became a garbage dump. Around the time of a landfill expansion, the trash dumped there was capped, prior to building land on top — though some question whether the procedure provided enough protection.
  • Meanwhile, the joint business partnership between the city and harbor district, who manages the operation, expires in 2026. 

Dive Insight:

San Mateo County Harbor District Commissioner Sabrina Brennan said when the landfill was capped, the law did not require barriers underneath or on the sides of the waste. And while the trash would be removed before redevelopment, she claims buried waste may still be able to flow into the Bay.

South San Francisco City Manager Mike Futrell called the allegations of a safety threat "inflammatory," and said that the landfill, which was closely monitored and regulated by multiple agencies, poses no public health or environmental threats.

"If anything were leeching into the site, we would know it," he said.

Meanwhile, as the battle on how to move forward over redevelopment ensues, the possibility of a shutdown has prompted discussions about whether South San Francisco should terminate its agreement with the harbor district and take full charge of managing Oyster Point’s operations. The county has debated over its solid waste management business structure before. 

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Filed Under: Landfill
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