- The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved an expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill operated by Waste Connections, addressing multiple appeals from both the company and community groups, as reported by the Los Angeles Times and other publications. This will allow the site to operate for 30 years or until it accepts 60 millions tons, whichever comes first. Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who introduced the motion, described this as the "final chapter in the story" of the landfill.
- Following an April approval from the county planning commission, Waste Connections said the terms they included would make site operation "economically unviable." The new terms presented by Barger reduced the amount of fees the company will have to pay on waste accepted from outside the Santa Clarita Valley and increased tonnage limits. Chiquita can now annually accept up to 2.8 million tons for the next seven years, 1.8 million tons after that and 735,000 tons of "beneficial use" materials.
- The approved motion requires Waste Connections to pay for a community health assessment study, conduct regular air and groundwater monitoring and prepare an odor minimization plan. All of these details will be reported to a community committee and residents will also have access to a 24-hour complaint hotline. Once the site reaches capacity, it will be turned into a public park.
This site has been open since 1972 and many local residents had been holding out hope for its imminent closure based on a 1997 agreement signed by the former owners. After reaching permitted capacity last year, the site received a temporary waiver to continue operating and local community groups used the opportunity to call for a final shutdown. Though because the landfill accepts about one-fifth of Los Angeles County's trash and half of the city's, local officials weren't ready to lose that security yet.
Waste Connections also had no interest in seeing the site close, especially because it will be a prime disposal option for the companies that have franchise collection contracts in Los Angeles starting next month. They originally advocated for even higher annual capacity limits than what the board of supervisors ended up approving in their latest compromise agreement. Other companies and industry associations also supported the expansion.
Both Los Angeles County and the city are working toward California's target of 75% diversion by 2020, and some local advocates saw the Chiquita expansion as contradictory to that mission. Though county supervisors noted that shifting toward higher diversion rates will be a gradual process and disposal capacity will still be needed in the meantime. Other cities moving toward their own "zero waste" futures have also made similar long-term landfill decisions, in a sign of just how difficult it may be to achieve high diversion rate goals on a short timetable.