Logan Smith: An open letter to Santa Clarita Valley

A bulldozer pushes exposed trash at Chiquita Canyon Landfill in this Signal file photo by Dan Watson.

A little less than a month ago, I flew to North Dakota to stand with Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline. On Dec. 4, the Army Corp of Engineers denied the easement necessary for Energy Transfer Partners to drill under the Oahe reservoir and complete the pipeline.

This decision represents a significant victory for the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, their thousands of allies camped in North Dakota, and the millions of people who stood up across the United States and around the world on behalf of environmental justice and indigenous rights.

I returned home from Oceti Sakowin not to rest, but to fight. Now our community must stand and demand justice here at home.

The Chiquita Canyon Landfill, operated by Waste Connections Inc., is operating in violation of the conditional use permit issued in 1997 after significant resistance from the residents of Val Verde.

The landfill poses environmental and health risks to adjacent communities, including but not limited to significant and unavoidable deterioration of air quality and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Despite exceeding the tonnage limit defined in the 1997 conditional use permit, Waste Connections now seeks to significantly expand the Chiquita Canyon site, presenting an even greater threat to residents, workers, and school children in Val Verde, Live Oak, Castaic and even Valencia.

Our community must come together to loudly and clearly demand that Chiquita Canyon ceases operations in agreement with the 1997 permit.

Waste Connections argues the cancer risk posed by the landfill is “less than significant.” I say that if a single person develops cancer attributable to carcinogenic substances being dumped at Chiquita, it is very much significant.

The health of our community is at stake. Los Angeles County and Supervisor Kathryn Barger have a moral obligation to protect citizens from predatory business.

Waste Connections doesn’t need the county’s help finding loopholes and legal tricks; it has plenty of its own lawyers to do that. But the people of Val Verde and Live Oak do not.

I ask everyone to stand with me now in the name of justice for our community. We must oppose the expansion of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill and demand that Waste Connections comply with the original conditional use permit.

We stopped digital billboards. We’ll stop Cemex. Let’s stop this landfill’s illegal expansion.

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