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Residents want to recycle, just not in their backyard

City to decide where to locate state-mandated plant

Posted: February 26, 2009 1:01 a.m.
Updated: February 26, 2009 4:55 a.m.
A group of residents railed against a rumor the City Council will build a recycling facility in the nearby areas of either Val Verde or Sylmar.

The council approved the formation of a site-selection committee for a 170,000-square-foot materials recovery facility (MRF) built by Burrtec Waste Industries, Inc.

But Santa Clarita City Manager Ken Pulskamp said residents don’t need to worry about where it’s going — yet.

“Unequivocally, there are no preconceived sites,” Pulskamp said. “We are absolutely at the beginning of this process. Some troubling information has been disseminated.”

The city must build the recycling plant, often referred to as a “murf,” to meet the state requirement to recycle at least 50 percent of its trash — a mandate that could swell to 75 percent in the coming years.

Santa Clarita’s preliminary rate for 2006 was 54 percent.

Facilitated by Robert Newman, director of public works, the group will meet over six months, tour existing MRFs in Southern California and discuss potential sites.

While Burrtec would be responsible for constructing and operating the MRF, the city will own the facility.

The so-called “dirty MRF,” would process green waste, food waste, construction and demolition waste, separated and commingled recyclables and municipal solid waste.

Val Verde is an unincorporated area west of Castaic and Sylmar is a city southeast of the Newhall pass.

Pulskamp said he never heard suggestions of building the city’s MRF adjacent to either Chiquita Canyon Landfill in Val Verde, or Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar.

“We expected (City Council) to establish (an MRF) within city limits,” said Wayde Hunter, who lives near Sylmar. “Landfills close, MRFs are forever.”

He added that Los Angeles County did at one point approve the construction of a MRF in the Chiquita Canyon area.

There is nothing in the city’s agreement with Burrtec that requires a MRF to be within city limits, said Travis Lange, the city’s environmental services manager.

After the public comment period, the council approved the formation of a citizen’s site-selection committee, which will meet over the next six months, tour existing MRFs in Southern California and discuss potential sites, according to the agenda report.

Proposed members of the 15-to-20-seat panel could include The Sierra Club, the Castaic, West Ranch and Val Verde town councils, the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, two City Council members and three open seats selected by the Solid Waste Subcommittee.

The council’s approval also amended Burrtec’s franchise agreement with the city, requiring the trash hauler to finish the MRF by Nov. 1, 2011.

At the start of the meeting the council received a presentation from the Los Angeles County Sanitation District, regarding transportation of waste by rail to the Mesquite Regional Landfill in Imperial County.

Under the waste-by-rail system, material sorted at a MRF is loaded into shipping containers and taken by train to a landfill.

The Mesquite landfill’s 2,290 acres has a capacity for about 600 million tons of solid waste and 100 years of operation at a maximum of 20,000 tons per day, according to the landfill’s Web site.

Lange said the city is not investigating that option at this time. Currently, the area’s trash is taken to Chiquita Canyon.


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