THE DUMP AND THE WATER SUPPLY
FOR SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
The expansion of Sunshine Canyon Landfill above
the cities of Granada Hills and Sylmar in the northeast San Fernando Valley
is far from a local issue. What will happen if the highly contaminated
leachate, produced by the landfill, finds its way into the water supply for
a large part of Southern California?
It is a disturbing fact that the proposed
expansion puts one of the largest landfills in the country next to the largest water treatment facility in
the United States.
BFI contends that the liner will keep leachate
from reaching the water table. The EPA states categorically that all liners
The old city dump is unlined. The city expansion
will depend on a liner placed over an unstable mass, subject to settlement.
The County landfill liner, which was presented to
the community as long-term protection has already been breached and is now
leaking hydrogen sulfide into the subdrain.
Standing on the ridge of the old landfill, you
look out over MWD's treatment plant that wholesales water for
18,000,000 customers in the surrounding counties, and the DWP's huge
uncovered Los Angeles Reservoir
that holds the already-treated water
for most of L.A.
The water arriving from north, via the California
Aqueduct is delivered to MWD through the Balboa Inlet
Tunnel. This 14 ft, tunnel was
severely fractured during the last two earthquakes (San Fernando 1971,
Northridge 1994). The southern boundary of the proposed expansion is only
500 ft. upstream from the tunnel. The State Water Resources Board wrote
“The top of the tunnel at its
shallowest point lies approximately 25 feet below the surface. The depth to groundwater at the same
location is on the order of 10 feet, or less. Dependent upon flow rate, the
hydrostatic pressure-head in the tunnel is approximately 3 to 19 feet lower
than the ground-water level. Under these conditions, groundwater may seep
into the tunnel."
Well contamination has been
found at the site.
In the late 70's, the City dropped a proposal to
purchase the dumpsite, when the geologist pointed out that there was a connection
through the alluvium between the dumpsite and the waters of the San
Fernando Valley. In the environmental documents, BFI denied that any
connection existed. This was done in spite of disclaimers issued by the
geologists they had quoted.
Chemical and human-waste contaminate the hundreds
of birds such as seagulls that forage through the dump, looking for food.
After eating they go to the open reservoir to drink and float in the
City's treated-water supply.
Over 20 % of the “non toxic” municipal landfills
are now Super-fund sites.
A report prepared by the California State
Assembly Office of Research and the California State Assembly Natural Resources Committee (April 1988)
states, in reference to Sunshine Canyon:
"Prior to 1986, incoming
loads were not regularly inspected for hazardous or
inappropriate wastes and regulatory
files indicate that chemical and
petroleum products were disposed
of at the, facility.”
Before the old city dump was closed, it took in
22,000 tons of digester cleanings, grit, and scum blanket from the city
sewer treatment plants. Much of this was less than 50% solid and illegal
for an unlined Class III dump.
These untreated sewer products also contained heavy metals and
The County dump also accepted 12,365 tons of
these sewer products (grit and digester screenings), until it was
discovered that they were too liquid to meet State Water standards.
Using the figures in the CITY SEIR, this dump,
which accepts industrial waste and household hazardous waste, will put up
to 154,000 pounds of toxic, or hazardous waste into the dump -- each and
every day. Increasing
amounts of electronic waste now pose new hazards.
The landfill has accepted untreated medical
waste, and buried in violation of the regulations.
City of Los Angeles continues on this collision course with disaster, its
only source of clean water may one day be the tears of its weeping angels. Mary Edwards, NVC Spokesperson