Puente Hills Landfill Material Recovery Facility (MRF) wins key county vote


Communities of North Whittier, Avocado Heights, Gladstone, Pelesier Place lose the battle


Environment Writer

Los Angeles News Group



NORTH WHITTIER – By a close vote, a county panel Monday night approved an expansion of operating hours for the Puente Hills Material Recovery Facility to a 24-hour, six-day a week operation despite opposition from neighbors.

“We feel good. It was the appropriate thing to do,” said Chuck Boehmke, departmental engineer for solid waste for the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts.

The tense, 3-2 vote by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission removed a major hurdle for the waste agency. Boehmke said his first order of business Tuesday would be to submit a modification of the permit with the county’s Department of Health Services. The state’s Cal-Recycle would then most likely approve the change, he said.

“Their vote confirms our position to have a facility to serve the public,” he said.

But longtime landfill and MRF opponent, Marilyn Kamimura, felt defeated after the vote. “I couldn’t help but cry,” she said.

Of the 26 speakers at the meeting, 20 were listed in opposition and six were in favor of lifting peak hour restrictions to the facility.

“The facility will change from recycling a select source of clean material to processing 4,400 tons of raw garbage a day. The net effect on the local communities has yet to be seen,” testified Don Moss, a nearby resident.

Solid waste engineers from the Sanitation Districts, operators of the twin

Puente Hills Landfill and MRF located near the 605/60 freeways interchange, said the expanded hours are necessary to capture more trash from private haulers once the landfill closes on Oct. 31.

Starting Nov. 1, garbage trucks will no longer go up to the landfill but rather, to the MRF. Its capacity will increase from 150 tons per day to a maximum of 4,400 tons per day, according to Ray Tremblay of the Sanitation Districts.

The county said the low operating capacity at the 8-year-old MRF is due in part to competition with private landfills and MRFs, such as the one run by Athens Disposal on Valley Boulevard. If the use restrictions were removed, the Sanitation Districts facility would be able to acquire more solid waste contracts.

Residents of North Whittier, Avocado Heights, Gladstone and other small neighborhoods within about a mile of the MRF, said lifting the ban on trash trucks from 6 a.m. To 9 a.m. and from 4 p.m. To 7 p.m. will increase noise, dust, diesel emissions and traffic in and around their communities.

However, Tremblay said traffic will actually decrease. The total trucks going to the landfill and the MRF equals 7,000 trips a day at maximum usage. “We will bring that down to under 3,000 trips per day,” he told the panel.

Those in favor of the expanded hours mostly included those from the trash industry. Many said if they had to dump their loads elsewhere, they would probably pay higher tipping fees, because the county Sanitation Districts have kept landfill fees low.



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About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.