El Sobrante will not get diverted trash

RESIDENTS PROTEST ODORS: Granada Hills residents last year staged a protest at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar. Photo: Los Angeles Daily News.

RESIDENTS PROTEST ODORS: Granada Hills residents last year staged a protest at the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar. Photo: Los Angeles Daily News.

UPDATE: Feb. 8, 2017

Following months of South Coast Air Quality Management District public hearings, a possible solution to the methane odors emanating from the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in Sylmar will not impact Temescal Valley’s El Sobrante Landfill.

If you recall, we reported in November that there was a possibility of 3,000 tons of a trash a day being diverted from Sunshine Canyon to El Sobrante.

The SCAQMD has now issued an order of abatement that limits the morning hours that Sunshine Canyon can receive trash, and has directed the landfill to divert tons of organic food waste and create better trash cover to control methane gas. The organic food waste would be recycled at a Gardena transfer station before heading to a Carson wastewater treatment plant and a Chino composting plant, according to the L.A. Daily News.

(Published Nov. 28, 2016)

LA County landfill could be ordered to ship trash elsewhere

What does a stinky Los Angeles County landfill have in common with Temescal Valley?

Residents of Granada Hills for many years have filed complaints with the South Coast Air Quality Management District about the methane odors emanating from the Sunshine Canyon Landfill in neighboring Sylmar.


“We do not have a position on the South Coast Air Quality Management District’s (SCAQMD) petition for an Order of Abatement against Republic’s Sunshine Canyon Landfill facility. El Sobrante is a regional landfill that serves multiple counties such as Riverside, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, San Diego and Orange. Regardless of SCAQMD’s decisions at Sunshine Canyon, it will be business as usual at El Sobrante. We will continue to provide critical waste disposal services while operating in accordance with our permit and complying with our approved tonnage and truck limits.”


The Hearing Board will hold further hearings at SCAQMD, 21865 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar, on the following days:

– Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 9 a.m.
– Wednesday, Nov, 30, at 9 a.m.
– Thursday, Dec. 1, at 9 a.m.

The AQMD board soon could be placing an Order of Abatement on the landfill that would limit its hours of operation and reduce its intake of garbage by 3,000 tons a day. Options for where those 3,000 tons of trash will be sent are limited, and Temescal Valley’s El Sobrante Landfill could be a possible recipient. El Sobrante is not at capacity on the daily amount it can receive and could accept 3,000 more tons which equates to about 175 more truckloads a day.

Also involved in the Sunshine Canyon fray are the county and city of Los Angeles. At the urging of county Supervisor Michael Antonovich, last month the county Department of Public Health announced it had served a notice of violation to the landfill, stating it is a “nuisance affecting the health and well-being of residents.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander earlier this month introduced a motion that the city identify another facility to accept the trash, the LA Daily News reported. Englander was quoted as saying, “It’s the first step in shutting it down. I want to stop the odors.”

Representatives of Sunshine Canyon, operated by Republic Services, say they have spent $27 million since 2009 in trying to remedy landfill odors. They also have stated that of the 9,000 complaints received by the AQMD since 2009, 70 percent over a five-year period came from only 20 addresses. They argue that it makes no sense for the AQMD to divert the waste because of additional emissions that would be generated by trucks used to haul it elsewhere.

Sunshine Canyon hired a consultant who has reached out to residents of communities where landfills are located to “warn” them of the possibility of more trash and more trucks.

An Oct. 20 meeting coordinated by the consultant at the Marie Callender’s in Corona was attended by about 20 Temescal Valley residents. Also attending were Waste Management employees Miriam Cardenas and Lily Quiroa, and Jeff Greene, chief of staff for 1st District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries.

El Sobrante art contest winners honored

CALENDAR ART CONTEST WINNERS: Students were honored at the January MAC meeting by teachers, principals and elected officials, including Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, far right, back row.

CALENDAR ART CONTEST WINNERS: Students were honored at the January MAC meeting by teachers, principals and elected officials, including Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, far right, back row.

During the January Temescal Valley Municipal Advisory Council meeting, residents and local elected officials joined the Waste Management El Sobrante Landfill to congratulate the 12 winners of the 4th Annual Temescal Valley America Recycles Day Calendar Art Contest.

Sponsored by a Waste Management Think Green Grant, the contest challenged children who live in the Temescal Valley area to illustrate the theme “Temescal Valley Recycles Right to Make Our Environment Bright!” and to depict the positive effects recycling has on the community.

During the contest awards ceremony, Riverside County First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries and the offices of Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez and Senator Jeff Stone presented personalized certificates to the winners and congratulated them for their environmental stewardship.  Waste Management also gave the children prize bags and awarded a combined total of $2,000 in school donations to the top four winners.

Art Contest Winners were …
1st place:  Riley Hall, El Cerrito Middle School, awarded an $800 school donation
2nd place: Holland McKinsey, Temescal Valley Elementary, awarded a $600 school donation
3rd place: Savannah Hoang, Todd Academy, awarded a $400 school donation
4th place: Sharelle Barrientos, Luiseno School, awarded a $200 school donation.

Runner-Ups were …
Taylor Haering, Temescal Valley Elementary
Emily Lewis, Todd Academy
Noah Travers, Temescal Valley Elementary
Abryana Nicotera, Todd Academy
Gabriela Penaloza, El Cerrito Middle School
Autumn Della Croce, Temescal Valley Elementary
Scarlett Smetana, El Cerrito Middle School
Karla Aguirre, El Cerrito Middle School

A judging panel, which included Temescal Valley residents, Supervisor Kevin Jeffries and El Sobrante Landfill staff, selected the winners based on interpretation of theme, originality, creativity and the student’s handwritten calls to action.

The contest is organized each year through a joint effort between the Temescal Heritage Foundation, community leaders and the Waste Management El Sobrante Landfill.  To date, the unincorporated community of Temescal Valley has received $40,000 in annual Waste Management Think Green Grants to organize cleanup events and environmental learning programs.

Here is the winning artwork:

1st place winnerFIRST PLACE JANUARY: RILEY HALL, 8th Grade El Cerrito Middle School

2nd place winnerSECOND PLACE FEBRUARY: HOLLAND McKINSEY, 5th Grade, Temescal Valley Elementary School

3rd Place winnerTHIRD PLACE MARCH: SAVANNAH HOANG, 2nd Grade, Todd Academy

4th place winnerFOURTH PLACE APRIL: SHARELLE BARRIENTOS, 8th Grade, Luiseno School

Taylor Haering- MayMAY: TAYLOR HAERING, 3rd Grade, Temescal Valley Elementary School

Emily LewisJUNE: EMILY LEWIS, 2nd Grade, Todd Academy

NoahJULY: NOAH TRAVERS, 1st Grade, Temescal Valley Elementary School

Abryana NicoteraAUGUST: ABRYANA NICOTERA, 2nd Grade, Todd Academy

Gabriela Penaloza- SeptSEPTEMBER: GABRIELA PENALOZA, 8th Grade, El Cerrito Middle School

Autumn Della Croce 4- OctoberOCTOBER: AUTUMN DELLA CROCE, 2nd Grade, Temescal Valley Elementary School

Scarlett Smetana- Runner UpNOVEMBER: SCARLETT SMETANA, 8th Grade, El Cerrito Middle School

Karla Aguirre

DECEMBER: KARLA AGUIRRE, 8th Grade, El Cerrito Middle School


Calendar contest winners announced

1st Place Quinn Anderson, Luiseno School, 7th grade. To view all winners, see the gallery below.

1st Place Quinn Anderson, Luiseno School, 7th grade. To view all winners, see the gallery below.

El Sobrante Landfill has announced the names of the 12 Temescal Valley students who are winners in the America Recycles Day calendar art contest.

The contest challenged students to depict the theme “Together we can keep Temescal Valley Clean and Green” and incorporate proactive ways to protect the environment, including proper waste disposal, recycling, clean technology and habitat conservation.

El Sobrante received 132 entries from children attending Todd Elementary, Luiseno and El Cerrito Middle schools. The contest was organized by the Temescal Heritage Foundation and the landfill.

Staff from Riverside County First District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries’ office and local community volunteers chose the 12 winners whose artwork will create the 2015 community calendar. The judges selected the winners based on interpretation of theme, creativity, originality and age appropriateness.

Here are the winners:

1st Place:  Quinn Anderson, Luiseno School, 7th grade ($800 will be given to Luiseno)
2nd Place:  Clarence Okonkwo, Todd Elementary School, 1st grade ($600 will be given to Todd)
3rd Place:  Melissa Albis, El Cerrito Middle School, 8th grade ($400 will be given to El Cerrito)

Additionally the top three winners won ice cream for their homeroom classrooms.

The runners-up, in first-name alphabetical order, are:

Isabella Russo, Todd Elementary School, 2nd grade
Jenna Mahoney, Todd Elementary School, 2nd grade
Justin Dizon, Luiseno School, 7th grade
Kaia Boone, Todd Elementary School, 3rd grade
Kaitlyn Currier, Todd Elementary School, 4th grade
Kiera Allende, Luiseno School, 1st grade
Lia Starks, Todd Elementary School, 3rd grade
Madison Talley, Todd Elementary School, 5th grade
Maggie Gibbs, Luiseno School, 4th grade 

All 12 winners will receive gift baskets with art supplies and eco-friendly merchandise,

Here are the other winning entries:

Landfill oversight committee to meet

The El Sobrante Landfill Citizen Oversight Committee (COC), will meet at 10 a.m., Wednesday, Oct. 8 in the Lee Lake Water District board room, 22646 Temescal Canyon Road.

Discussion items include updates on the Clean Money Program and acceptance of incinerator ash at the landfill. Groundwater wells in Dawson Canyon will be discussed, and a legal opinion on the definition of “peak hour traffic” on SR-91 will be presented.

Updates on the landfill will include construction of the new Phase 11, the permitting process for two basins that have already been constructed, the five-year permit review, and the manner in which disposal of nonhazardous, nondesignated contaminated soils is handled.

COC members will review and provide comment on the landfill’s 2013 annual report submitted by Waste Mangement and vetted by the county’s Administrative Review Committee (ARC). The committee also will review the ARC’s Mitigation Monitoring Report and conditions of approval for the annual report.

The purpose of the five-member Citizen Oversight Committee appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is to review the annual report and provide comment to the supervisors regarding the report, including issues or concerns. The committee must meet at least once a year but can meet more often. It has no authoritative powers and acts solely in an advisory capacity.

COC members current concerns are about the landfill’s appearance, acceptance of incinerator ash, truck traffic on the 91 during peak hours and landfill expansion that, committee members claim, was not authorized.

Current COC members are Chairman Rob Mucha, Vice Chairman Amie Kinne, Paul Rodriguez, Jana Walchle and Jack Wyatt. Walchle lives in El Cerrito; the other four are Temescal Valley residents.

  • Read the Oct. 8 agenda and minutes of the July 16 meeting  HERE
  • Read a related story  HERE

Folks tour landfill

About 50-plus people braved triple-digit temperatures Saturday to visit the El Sobrante Landfill Open House.

Three bus tours scheduled during the 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. event provided a narrated program of how the landfill operates, including a sneak peak at a new phase now under construction. (Learn more about the design and environmental safety factors  HERE  and  HERE)

It also was explained how methane gas produced by the landfill is converted into power to run the operation, producing enough electricity to supply 6,000 home for one year. (Learn how gas is extracted from the landfill  HERE)

Much emphasis was placed on saving the natural habitat surrounding the landfill, as well as taking steps today to assure the property will be returned to an environment as a protected habitat for endangered animals and plants when the landfill closes. (Learn what plants and animals are endangered   HERE)

A big hit of the tour was visiting the falconer and his birds that keep seagulls away from the trash. (Read more about the falcons  HERE)

Personal tours of the landfill can be arranged by contacting Miriam Cardenas, or 951-277-5112.


Landfill meeting answers questions; raises others

Concerns raised by the El Sobrante Landfill Citizens’ Oversight Committee were discussed July 16 during a marathon three-hour-plus meeting at the Lee Lake Water District office.

The purpose of the five-member committee appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors is to review the El Sobrante Annual Monitoring Report and provide comment to the supervisors on the report, including issues or concerns.

Committee members at a meeting held in April questioned the landfill’s appearance, acceptance of incinerator ash, truck traffic on the freeways during peak hours and expansion.

Addressing those concerns at Wednesday’s meeting were General Manager Hans Kernkamp and Principal Planner Ryan Ross – both with the Riverside County Waste Management Department, and Greg Reyes, with the county’s Local Enforcement Agency. The LEA is certified by the California Integrated Waste Management Board to enforce state laws and regulations at solid waste facilities. The landfill, owned by Waste Management, Inc. (WMI), was represented by Mike Williams, district manager.


Rob Mucha, chairman of the Citizens’ Oversight Committee (COC), said when the landfill’s hours of operation were expanded in 2009, Waste Management indicated it would ensure that peak hour traffic on SR 91 would not be impacted. He said Temescal Valley residents were told that congestion on local roads would decrease.

Mucha presented a report he compiled based on the county’s traffic numbers that he said shows truck traffic during peak hours is increasing. He said of the 737 weekly trips transfer trucks made to the landfill using the 91 freeway in 2011, 120 trips were between the hours of 6 to 8 a.m. In 2012, 131 of the 706 weekly trips were made between those hours.

Williams said a letter was sent in January to all trash haulers asking that trips not be made during peak traffic hours. Additionally, 60 percent of the trucks using the landfill are Waste Management haulers and those trucks have been equipped with GPS which can be monitored. WMI drivers caught on the 91 during peak times will be warned, fined and could be terminated, Williams said.

COC member Paul Rodriguez suggested that the county determine how “peak hour” was defined in the environmental impact report (EIR), required by the California Environmental Quality Agency (CEQA), when the landfill’s hours of operation were expanded in 2009.

Rodriguez also noted that the statement from WMI to Temescal Valley residents implying traffic congestion on local streets would be reduced was correct. “It was the same number of trucks over a longer period of time, thus reducing congestion,” Rodriguez said.

County representatives responded their attorneys are already attempting to ascertain how CEQA defined “peak hour” in the EIR and that the results would be shared with the COC.

Increasing the price per ton for haulers who continually travel on the 91 during peak hours was suggested by Mucha.


Mucha said that when El Sobrante was originally permitted, incinerator ash appeared on a list of excluded items not to be accepted at the landfill, but now is being accepted. He presented a 2012 document from the city of Long Beach Gas & Oil Department to its City Council recommending adoption of a resolution allowing the department to haul incinerator ash to El Sobrante. The ash was being taken to Puente Hills, but with that landfill’s closure in 2013, a new disposal source was being sought. The department also noted El Sobrante was willing to charge the city a negotiated rate below its usual rate for non-county waste.

Williams responded that El Sobrante had been receiving “treated” incinerator ash from Long Beach since November 2013 at a rate of about 450-500 tons a day, and that permits were received a year earlier. He said the city pays the same tonnage rate as other non-county haulers do. He said state law is very strict regarding the acceptance of incinerator ash, requiring that it be treated by a process that renders the toxins inert. An acceptable method is the “wet treatment,” which mixes the ash with cement. Ash treated in this manner is still required to be tested, Williams said, noting that Puente Hills accepted treated incinerator ash for 20 years, using it as a base for roads. “We’re using it as a trash cover, Williams said.

When questioned by COC members why the ash was excluded in earlier permitting, county representatives said that years ago the popular consensus was “to stay away from incinerator ash.”

Kinne asked if incinerator ash was going to county-owned landfills. Both Kernkamp and Ross said treated incinerator ash would be accepted at the county-owned landfills, is not harmful and does not create a hazardous waste stream.

The county is asking the Environmental Health Department to “weigh in” on the issue and asking the county legal department to determine, because incinerated ash in original permits was excluded, is this inconsistency a minor infraction. It was noted that the county could issue a cease and desist order to El Sobrante or update the contract to allow treated incinerator ash at the landfill.

Rodriguez said the county’s report on the issue should contain suggested remedial actions.


Mucha questioned whether more could be done to “green up” the front-facing landfill berms which have been hydroseeded but not watered based on the opinion of a WMI biologist that irrigation would produce shallow-rooted, weak plants. Mucha pointed out that the area has been in drought for several years, and a little water to promote growth wouldn’t hurt.

Williams said 3,000 cactuses have been planted and the area flagged for “significant” placement of boulders within the next 30 days pending the approval of the biologist. He said the hydroseed has been checked for viability – it’s good and rain will bring growth.

Mucha presented an opinion he sought from a county ecological specialist that advocated watering because of the drought. Mucha said non-potable water was available for irrigation.

Williams said watering would not only promote the hydroseed’s native plant growth, but weeds as well. He said the problem with the front of the landfill is that it faces south. The north face that was hydroseeded at the same time is green and growing.

Amie Kinne, COC vice chairman, said the former Synagro property that sits at the base of the landfill and currently is owned by WMI, also needs landscape attention.


Kinne questioned how El Sobrante could build two stormwater retention basins outside the landfill’s footprint. “Dawson Canyon resident Regina Cook’s kitchen window looks out over one of those ponds,” she said.

COC members claim the basins did not receive the necessary permits when El Sobrante relocated them from within the landfill’s footprint to outside of it.

Williams has said the ponds are on property that allows for that type of usage outside the footprint. He was quoted in a story which was published April 17 on The Press-Enterprise website, that the ponds were approved by the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control board. That agency told The Press-Enterprise reporter only the ponds’ designs, not location, were approved. (Read the PE story HERE)

The issue now is being investigated by county, state and federal agencies including the county’s Department of Environmental Heath, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and both California and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Kinne questioned if permitting was necessary, would the public have the opportunity to comment. “Who looks after the residents,” she asked.

Cook, who attended the meeting, said she feels “pushed aside” and asked the landfill to “buy my property.” She said she lived in Dawson Canyon years before the landfill was approved, having paid $145,000 for her home. “What’s it worth now — $45,000?” She said the least El Sobrante should do is pay to have her well water tested now that the basin is adjacent to her property. She also asked about vermin control, saying she found a “really big thing” in her back yard – gesturing with her hands, “a rat the size of a raccoon.”

Committee members were concerned that the county, as the lead agency, has no process in place to notify Dawson Canyon residents of changes being made at the landfill.

Kinne, who lives in Dawson Canyon, said she had requested updates from the county but was told she couldn’t have them because she was a COC member. Kernkamp said that would be corrected.

It also was noted that while the regulatory agencies could do a better job communicating with the residents, the agencies needed better communication with each other.


Ross explained the county’s process in preparing El Sobrante’s Annual Monitoring Report. After WMI prepares the report, it’s given to the county’s Waste Management Department for review and comments, and then passed on to the county’s Administrative Review Committee (ARC). That committee includes Ross, who represents the Waste Management Department, and a representative from the county’s Executive Office and Planning Department. The report goes back and forth between WMI, county waste management and ARC, where comments are added, and then eventually is given to the COC. At this point, the COC receives the Annual Monitoring Report which also includes a status report on mitigation monitoring and a conditions of approval compliance report. (View the 2012 report HERE)

COC members wanted to know when they will receive the 2013 report. Earlier in the meeting, Ross mentioned the county is investigating a possible violation of the Brown Act, the state’s open-meeting law. No one elaborated on the possible violation, but Ross said the 2013 report has been delayed because of the investigation.

Ross was asked when the ARC meets to provide its input for the report. Ross said ARC members do not meet face-to-face but email each other instead.


Reyes said the LEA works with the state’s water and air boards to enforce laws governing landfills. He said unannounced inspections are held at El Sobrante at least once a month. “We get very few complaints about El Sobrante and it is one of the better landfills,” Reyes said.

When asked about specific complaints, he said they are usually about the trash trucks littering the I-15. “We call El Sobrante and they respond immediately.”

In her closing comments Kinne said, “We must realize this landfill isn’t for 15, 20 or 30 years. It will exist forever.”

The COC will next meet in October to begin review of the 2013 report.

Landfill COC gets county website link

A news report appearing in The Press-Enterprise on April 19, “Residents question landfill expansion, practices,” quoted members of the El Sobrante Landfill Citizen Oversight Committee and concerns they have with landfill operations.

Many Temescal Valley residents didn’t know an oversight committee existed and what its role is in dealing with the landfill. The Riverside County Waste Management Department last month added a link on its website, “COC Corner,” that lists meeting agendas and minutes, and committee members.

The committee was formed in 1998 and is comprised of five members appointed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Its purpose is to review the El Sobrante Annual Monitoring Report and provide comment to the supervisors on the report, including issues or concerns. The annual report is required to ensure the landfill is operating in conformance with the county’s monitoring program. All committee members must live in proximity to the landfill.

The committee must meet at least once a year but can meet more often. It has no authoritative powers and acts solely in an advisory capacity.

Current committee members are Chairman Rob Mucha, Vice Chairman Amie Kinne, Paul Rodriguez, Jana Walchle and Jack Wyatt.

The next committee meeting is 10 a.m., July 16 at the Lee Lake Water District office, 22646 Temescal Canyon Road. The county is expected to address the recent concerns raised by the committee. The meeting is open to the public.