FEELING TRUTH AT YOU: Gregory Canyon Landfill plan flawed

by publicationarchive

The U.S. has taken the environment out back for a relentless beating as of late. The largest oil spill the nation has ever seen has been splashed all over the news, uncontrollably gushing oil at a rate of thousands of barrels per day into the Gulf of Mexico, as it has for more than two months now. Yet we continue to burn fossil fuels at an alarming rate, releasing untold amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The City of San Diego and San Diego County have done their fair share of damage as well. Our San Diego Bay remains polluted because there is no money to clean it. We also dispose unnecessary amounts of trash, and now the county believes its own flawed plan to build a new landfill in Gregory Canyon in North County will provide a solution to this problem, as if it weren’t only going to make the environmental hazard worse.

For nearly 20 years, San Diego County has been attempting to construct a landfill in addition to the already existing 1,500-acre landfill in Miramar. With the Miramar Landfill originally scheduled to close in 1995, plans began years ago to construct another landfill in Gregory Canyon in North County, which have never gained support from residents in the area because of massive flaws.

“The landfill would be situated south of state Route 76, roughly three miles east of Interstate 15 in a canyon adjacent to the Pala Indian Reservation,” a report from The San Diego Union Tribune said.

If you look on a map, the problem is immediately clear 8212; the landfill would be located near the San Luis Rey River. Rivers serve as a source of drinking water, and the San Luis Rey River is a big supplier of water to North County residents and farmers.

With Southern California as desperate as it is for water, constructing a landfill this close to a river and likely rendering the river water undrinkable is clearly shooting our own foot. No matter how well the county says it can build the landfill, pollutants and waste are highly likely to find their ways into the river and surrounding groundwater.

Proponents of the new landfill say they need a landfill of their own to send their trash to and that the Miramar Landfill will not last much longer.

“Right now, North County trash is going everywhere but North County,” Gregory Canyon Ltd. spokeswoman Nancy Chase said. “It’s going to Orange County, to Arizona, to Otay Mesa. We are running out of capacity. You have to plan more than 20 years ahead.”
Not only is the plan flawed, it is also politically corrupt. This should come as no surprise after a 20-year struggle.

Whenever there is a large project proposal in the state, an Environmental Impact Report is required. This report provides an estimate for how the project will affect the environment 8212; both positively and negatively 8212; from a variety of perspectives.

Multiple Environmental Impact Reports had to be done for this project because flaws were found. But in May 2007, the Environmental Impact Report was accepted by Gary Erbeck, the director of the San Diego Solid Waste Local Enforcement Agency. This means an employee of the county essentially certified a county project, which reeks of a conflict of interest and should be a red flag clearly showing this project is illegitimate.

San Diego cannot settle for a flawed solution when environmentally sustainable alternatives to this plan already exist. The City of San Diego planned and passed strict recycling reform mandating all businesses and residents to recycle more in an effort to extend the life of the Miramar Landfill.

“The City Recycling Ordinance began January 1, 2008 and was phased in over two years,” City of San Diego Environmental Services Public Information Officer Jose Ysea said in a press release. “It required citywide recycling of at least all glass and plastic, bottles and jars, cans, paper and cardboard.”

Thanks to this recycling ordinance and other earlier citywide recycling efforts, the life of the Miramar Landfill has been extended to 2019 8212; perhaps even longer than that. It would be in the best interest of North County to reduce the amount of trash residents and businesses create, to eliminate the need for this landfill by creating similar recycling mandates.

The list of problems with this project can continue for days. The bottom line is that this project needs to be put in the shredder. It’s environmentally flawed, politically corrupt and all other options have not yet been exhausted.

If you have a reason to believe I’m just another crazy environmental protectionist, just remember: BP and the government said deep-water offshore drilling was safe. Another catastrophic spill at the landfill could cost taxpayers billions of dollars we don’t have.

8212;T.J. Bronson is a journalism and economics senior.

8212;This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to opinion@thedailyaztec.com. Anonymous letters will not be printed. Include your full name, major and year in school.