Court tosses out lawsuit filed by Val Verde group over landfill decision

A trash truck dumps its load at the Chiquita Land Fill in Castaic in 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
A trash truck dumps its load at the Chiquita Land Fill in Castaic in 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A Val Verde citizens’ group that sued the county over its decision to grant Chiquita Canyon Landfill an operating permit saw its case dismissed in court.

Lawyers representing members of the Val Verde Civic Association and local environmentalists were in Los Angeles Superior Court on Oct. 10.

The association sued county officials for having made what it says was a bad decision in granting the landfill an operating permit since their decision was based, allegedly, on an inadequate assessment of how the project would affect the environment.

At the end of the day in court, the judge denied the group’s petition for a writ of administrative mandamus — a request for the court to reverse a final decision made by an administrative agency.

The court’s decision was welcomed by landfill officials.

“We are pleased with the court’s decision to deny landfill opponents’ objections to Chiquita Canyon’s environmental approvals,” landfill spokesman John Musella said Thursday.

“The court stated that opponents have failed to provide any evidence of their speculation and claims,” he said. “The final environmental impact report was found by the court to have adequately analyzed the project.”  

Civic Association members maintained in their lawsuit that the environmental impact report presented to county decision-makers on the impacts of the landfill was inadequate and failed to properly and fully disclose many impacts to the decision makers.

The biggest concern for members of the Val Verde group, based on memos sent to county supervisors voicing official opposition to the decision made regarding Chiquita’s permit, is that air monitoring for the air-quality analysis was gathered at distant monitoring stations, some even outside the Santa Clarita Valley, they alleged.

When reached for comment on the court decision, Civic Association President Jaime Briano declined.

Lynne Plambeck, president of the Santa Clarita Organization for Planning and the Environment, or SCOPE, attended the court hearing Aug. 23.

“It is always an uphill battle for a community group to challenge a huge multinational corporation,” she said at that time.

“Val Verde has had health, air quality and odor issues from that landfill for decades … Yet the health assessment, which was conditioned to be conducted within a year, has still not happened, and now the county says they will not do continuous monitoring for (volatile organic compounds) as required,” she said. 

Volatile organic compounds are commonly released through the breakdown of plastics.

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On Twitter: @jamesarthurholt  

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