Local News

Thursday, Jan 09 2014 02:07 PM

L.A. halts suspicious dumping in Lebec

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    The city of Los Angeles has been delivering material to this site in Lebec off on Frazier Mountain Park Road about a mile from Interstate 5.

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BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer jburger@bakersfield.com

It appears that the city of Los Angeles has, in fact, been breaking Kern County land-use laws by dumping what it says is curbside green waste on an unpermitted transfer site west of Lebec.

The city will immediately stop delivering material to the location on Frazier Mountain Park Road, said Cora Jackson-Fossett of the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation.

She said the city did not know the site was not permitted to receive the waste and was simply dropping it where the "end-user" asked it to.

Jackson-Fossett could not identify the end user or how long the city has been dumping the material there.

"To our knowledge it's being pre-processed into compost and soil material at the end site," she said.

Gabriel Mejia of Govia Transport and Logistics in Orange County said Wednesday that his company arranges for trucks to pick up the green waste left by the city of Los Angeles and take it to "various places."

Kern County Supervisor David Couch has been investigating the dumping, saying Wednesday he's suspicious given Los Angeles' attempts in court to challenge voter-approved Measure E, Kern's ban on the spreading of treated sewage sludge -- called biosolids -- on unincorporated lands.

Couch said he trailed a truck from the Lebec location down to the Synagro composting facility east of Taft.

Synagro mixes together organic waste and the treated human and industrial waste called biosolids and composts it in large piles to produce 500 tons of fertilizer a day, according to its website.

"When I followed the truck, I followed it to Synagro," Couch said.

But he said he is skeptical that the company was involved in the dumping in Lebec.

"I would be very surprised if Synagro even knew about this," Couch said. "What possible benefit could it be to them?"

Jackson-Fossett said the material that was dropped in Lebec is clean green waste from the city of Los Angeles' curbside recycling bins.

It is not mixed with biosolids or any other material, she said.

Between four and five truckloads of the waste, weighing between 80 and 100 tons, were deposited at Lebec daily, Jackson-Fossett said.

"It's normally reloaded and transported by the end user on the same day," she said.

Kern County Engineering, Surveying and Permit Services Department Director Chuck Lackey said Thursday that a conditional use permit would have been required for Los Angeles and Govia Transport to use the site as they have.

Kern County is analyzing the waste stream at Lebec to determine if the material is what Los Angeles claims it is, Lackey said.

But even taking the claims that the material is green waste at face value, he said, it's against Kern County land-use law to dump it there without a permit.

"If they want to continue to use it, they would need to apply for a conditional use permit," he said.

Using the site as a sort of green waste way station, Lackey said, might make it subject to even more Kern County regulation.

Los Angeles and Govia "need to work with Environmental Health to make sure they don't need a transfer station permit," he said.

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