OCEANSIDE — City Council voted 3-2 to adopt a resolution in opposition to California Senate Bill 833 July 6, in which Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez voted against it.
The proposed senate bill asks for greater environmental considerations before projects are approved.
Opposition to the bill claims that it detours business development. “It sends a horrible message that California is not a place to do business,” Councilman Gary Felien said.
Locally the bill will mean more hurdles for the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill that will sit in a steep Fallbrook canyon on top of underground aquifers and as close as 1,000 feet from the San Luis Rey River which is a source of drinking water for Oceanside.
“Whether you agree with the Gregory Canyon landfill or not this is bad policy,” Councilman Jerry Kern said.
Oceanside has opposed the landfill location since it was first proposed about 20 years ago.
“Conservation in what we do to keep water safe,” Cari Dale, water utilities director, said. “We take minimal risk to keep people safe. We as a water department just can’t protect against a bad idea.”
Due to the sensitive location of the proposed landfill the Environmental Impact Report for the landfill project has been challenged, amended and approved by the county. Currently regulatory permits for the landfill are being pursued.
There continue to be strong concerns that the landfill liner will not keep contaminants out of the waterway.
“The 8-foot liner is only good if the surface is flat,” Ted Griswold, environmental attorney who is representing the Pala Indian Tribe’s interest in the land area, said. “It only covers 23 percent of the landfill surface area. They don’t say that.”
“All kinds of chemicals end up in our landfill,” Diane Nygaard, of Preserve Calavera, said. “How do we keep them from going through plastic liners?”
“I attended workshops on the landfill and learned some very scary things,” Jerry McCloud, Oceanside resident, said. “There is no guarantee. Anything that can harm our water needs to be taken very seriously.”
Studies have also confirmed that the Gregory Canon site is not a desirable spot for the landfill.
“A leak (in the landfill liner) could be irreversible,” Dr. Dennis Williams, president of Geoscience Support Services, said. “All landfill liners leak. It’s a ticking time bomb.”
“We are one of the few cities that does have an above ground water supply, why risk that?” Wood asked.
Richard Felago, program manager for the Gregory Canyon landfill implementation team, said the proposed 8-feet thick impermeable barriers and liner for the landfill will last hundreds of years. Some are still concerned that is not long enough.
Another concern is that the proposed landfill sits on Gregory Mountain, which is a sacred area for local Native American Indians.
“It’s a desecration of culture,” Griswold said. “It can’t be fixed when you put a bunch of trash in it. We suggested and continue to suggest other locations dealing with waste flow and hold strong on that.”
One suggestion is to build a trash energy plant that will incinerate garbage and convert it to energy instead of burying it in the mountain.
“Oceanside did not reverse its position on the Gregory landfill,” Griswold said.