The county planning director has issued a waiver allowing the Chiquita Canyon Landfill to continue accepting trash beyond its approved capacity while the landfill’s expansion plan works its way through the approval process, an official confirmed Thursday.
Under its 1997 conditions of approval, the county required the landfill in Val Verde to close once it hits 23 million tons or on Nov. 29, 2019 – whichever is earlier.
Edel Vizcarra, deputy to Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, said the county planning director approved a “clean hands waiver” earlier this year. The waiver allows Chiquita to continue normal operations until the Regional Planning Commission makes a decision to approve the expansion or close the landfill.
“They have reached their capacity of 23 million tons,” Vizcarra said Thursday. “They anticipated they were going to hit this tonnage limit sometime in late 2016, so they applied for a new conditional use permit for an expansion.”
The landfill crossed the 23 million-ton threshold this summer – which was no surprise.County documents for the period ending Dec. 31, 2014, showed that the 23 million ton limit was only 2 years and 1.83 million tons away. From January 2015 to Jan. 7, 2016, more than 1.408 million tons of waste was taken to Chiquita Canyon, leaving the facility with only about 400,000 tons of remaining capacity at the beginning of 2016.
Based on county documents, the the facility’s 2015 daily average of solid waste tonnage was 5,896.05 tons. It is allowed to take in 6,000 tons per day. Roughly 80 percent of its trash is generated outside of the Santa Clarita Valley.
If the Planning Commission approves a new permit – which could happen early next year – the landfill would be able to expand both its footprint and its capacity limit. If the permit is denied, the landfill would have cease operating, but it could appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors.
“We were promised in 1997 that the landfill would close,” said Bonnie Nikolai, a Val Verde representative at the Castaic Area Town Council. “It is now time to close, and we want to hold them to their promise. We do not want to renegotiate. We do not want any of their money. We just want them gone.”
Although the Board of Supervisors set the capacity limit at 23 million tons of solid waste, the landfill, as currently configured, can actually hold 29.4 tons, according to its environmental documents. Vizcarra said the county expects the expansion permitting process to be completed before it reaches its actual capacity.
The new conditional use permit process has begun, but it was put on hold for some changes that needed to be made and information that needed to be circulated in the environmental impact report, Vizcarra said.