Tons of Sand Fire debris trucked to landfill

Chiquita Canyon's district manager Steve Cassulo gives a tour of the landfill on March 1, 2017, to members of the public and county commissioners on the proposed expansion of the landfill on land Chiquita already owns. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Thousands of tons of flood water debris created by the Sand Fire – snapped trees, charred branches and loosened dirt that were swept across roads in Sand Canyon by heavy rainfall this past winter – are being dumped at the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

For the past two weeks, convoys of eight to 10 gravel trucks at a time, many of them 10-wheel trucks, have been making daily treks to the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

On Thursday, more than a dozen trucks were seen backed up at the landfill’s entrance along the dirt shoulder of Highway 126 near Val Verde waiting to enter the site and dump their load, while a continual procession of empty trucks left the facility.

A worker in a yellow construction vest directed traffic in and out of the landfill.

“It is clean soil coming from the Los Angeles County flood control basins from around the Santa Clarita Valley,” Landfill spokesman John Musella said.

“The County removes the soil that collects in the basins during the rainy season so they have room in the basins to prevent flooding,” he said, noting that the practice “goes on periodically over the years.”

By “clean soil” Musella meant soil not taken from a brownfield or contaminated area.

Debris brought to the landfill these past couple of weeks is the direct result of debris created by the Sand Fire and the subsequent flooding of the area in the past few months.

“This is debris cleared from a couple of roads this past winter, on Sand Canyon and Little Tujunga,” Public Works spokesman Steve Frasher said, describing it as “mud, all organic, pieces of trees and charred bits.”

With back-to-back convoys of 10 gravel trucks, each hauling about 20 tons at a time, after two weeks with just four trips a day – two in the morning, two in the afternoon – there would be an estimated 8,000 tons dumped in the landfill.

If “clean soil” filled up the only designated area for SCV residents to send their icky household waste – eggs shells, dinner scraps, rusted machine parts, broken toys – this week, would they be left with the controversial chore of finding another landfill?

A compactor rolls over the exposed trash at a 200X200 foot “working face” site at the Chiquita landfill Fill in Castaic Nov. 2, 2016. As soon as the the trash is spread and compacted it is immediately covered with dirt and the working face site moves forward. This view looks south-west towards the new proposed expansion site, and In the distance is the tall ridge which blocks the land fill from view of surrounding communities. Dan Watson/Signal

County officials on Monday said no.

There is plenty allocated space at the landfill for both household waste and “clean soil.”

In their recent approval of the landfill’s expansion, Los Angeles County regional planners set two separate maximum amounts – one limit for refuse and, one limit for “clean soil” referred to as beneficial reuse material.

For example, crushed concrete delivered as trash to the site might end up being used to help create roads inside the landfill, and therefore stops being considered trash. Instead, it is considered a “beneficial use material.”

Planning department spokesman Mitch Glaser said Monday: “The annual limit is 1,400,000 tons of solid waste and 700,000 tons of beneficial use materials – including compost – for a grand total of 2,100,000 tons of all materials,” he said.


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