On Thursday evening, December 15, 2016, I attended a Los Angeles County Department of Regional Planning public hearing at the West Ranch High School theater in Westridge. The hearing was for the Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion zoning permits and there was an opportunity for public comment. The opponents of the proposed expansion lacked decorum by laughing and heckling those that spoke in favor of the project. There is no deference for allowing both sides of an issue to be discussed in a respectful way.
I wrote in July 2015 the following: There are individuals in that community who will say anything, regardless of the facts, for the sole purpose of getting their own way. A case in point is Steve Lee who spoke at a recent Castaic Town Council meeting. He had an opportunity to speak and when a council member made a comment, Mr. Lee exploded and started screaming. You can watch the entire short video right here: Rage Explodes at Local Meeting That is a glaring example of the inability of some to listen to opposing viewpoints.
This is typical behavior by the extreme left eco-terrorists and their gullible followers. It is also a microcosm of what has become pervasive across the country. Just look at the vitriolic hate speeches in politics or the regular disruptions that happen evermore frequently at speaking events. It’s usually extremists that will interrupt, shout, and generally disrupt anyone who is speaking in favor of something they are against. But, if they should be heckled, it turns into their 4th amendment rights being violated—they are hypocrites.
Since the draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was circulated for the Chiquita Canyon expansion in 2014 there has been steady but small band of opponents. Most have been whipped up by the bogus environmental group known as S.C.O.P.E. in the latest attempt at quelling growth in the Santa Clarita Valley. That is what their opposition to the landfill expansion is all about—growth and development. The landfill is the flavor of the month that S.C.O.P.E. has latched onto in their futile attempt at stopping any smart, managed growth.
These pseudo-environmentalists grab onto anything and everything to prevent further development in our valley. Over the years, they have used water, the spin-flower (weed), air pollution, traffic, climate change, and now the landfill in an attempt to prevent or constrict any building in SCV. In regards to the landfill, these opponents have used evolving scare tactics, misinformation, outright falsehoods and lies, going from an occasional odor, to toxic soil, to radioactive waste, to asthma, and now cancer. None of which can be substantiated with any empirical evidence or documentation.
Yet the ignorant and credulous fall for it based on someone saying it and without any further investigation or questioning. This is just like the recent rash of fake news stories populating social media, which many seem to believe. It is no wonder the uneducated and naïve are swindled, ripped-off, and otherwise taken advantage of on a regular basis. They lack the intellect to look at both sides of an issue and evaluate the information based on the sources. If scientific evidence is presented that is counter to their positions they shout it down and laugh at it. This was evident at this most recent meeting when an air quality report conducted by the Val Verde Community Advisory Committee's environmental consultant was presented stating that the there is nothing wrong with the air in the Val Verde community.
Here is what we know as fact about the Chiquita Canyon Landfill:
- The landfill began operating in 1972.
- Human Beings generate trash, which must be disposed of and it is our desire to do it responsibly by separating out recyclables and composting.
- Chiquita Canyon has built a reputation for handling the area’s solid waste needs in an environmentally responsible way, monitoring environmental and related impacts to ensure that the Santa Clarita Valley’s natural resources are protected.
- This proposed expansion is actually the closing of one cell and the opening of another that is further away from the neighboring Val Verde community. Only one (1) acre of the entire landfill is used as the working face during the day where waste is disposed of, compacted, and covered over. That is one (1) acre in the midst of a 649-acre site.
- Chiquita Canyon is extracting natural gas from the site as part of its environmentally sound operation.
- Some opponents use the landfill regularly to dispose of waste.
The vocal few crying about health issues in Val Verde have not produced any specific, qualified medical documentation. Instead they have relied solely on hearsay, innuendo, and rumor. What should happen, and something I have written about previously, is there needs to be a full-scale examination of the septic system contamination in the Val Verde community. It is widely known that if septic systems are not maintained properly there can be associated health risks, which I wrote about in 2014: Is Val Verde the real Health Problem?
At this point, the landfill has been probed, prodded and poked by experts. The air and water have been monitored and tested, these and other tests conducted have met or exceeded all standards. I think that it would be appropriate to do the same in the Val Verde community by having Los Angeles County conduct a full analysis of their septic systems. It is my opinion that these antiquated sewage systems are not being properly maintained in many of the home locations, which may actually be the root of a public health issue for the entire community.
Further, it is likely that those same septic systems are in fact contaminating the ground water, which is a serious hazard to the greater Santa Clarita Valley community. We will not know until a thorough and proper scientific inquiry has been conducted, like that done at the landfill. I would expect after such county tests that remedial recommendations will be put forth. Should some of those homes prove to be identified as a grave health hazard then they need to be red tagged until corrective action has been taken.
The only way that the health problems being claimed by residents can be assessed is through the full scrutiny of the entire area. The Chiquita Canyon Landfill has complied, now it is time for the Val Verde community to do the same. Los Angeles County’s relevant agencies must step up and investigate the potential and likely egregious health hazards lurking in the Val Verde community that may pose an alarming threat to the greater SCV populace.
Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on several boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.