Lawsuit Challenges Massive Expansion of San Diego Landfill

by on October 24, 2012

in Activism, Government, Politics

from the Center for Biological Diversity

Three conservation groups filed a lawsuit this week challenging the city of San Diego’s decision to triple the amount of garbage that can be processed daily at the Sycamore Landfill and allow operations 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The lawsuit, filed by Preserve Wild Santee, the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Chaparral Institute, is aimed at protecting people and wildlife, and encouraging a transition toward more sustainable and efficient solid-waste processing. Left unchallenged, the Sycamore Landfill’s overall disposal capacity would more than double, increasing by approximately 82 million cubic yards to 153 million cubic yards.

The amount of municipal solid waste that would be allowed daily would increase from 3,965 tons per day to up to 11,450 tons per day. The expanded landfill area and 24-hour operations would interfere with wildlife movement between surrounding open space areas, contribute to roadkill, and disturb animals due to night lighting, noise, vibration and dust. The expanded operations would also increase traffic in the area, adding to air pollution and blighting scenic vistas from nearby Mission Trails Regional Park and other surrounding areas.

“There is an important line between providing an essential public service and operating as a public nuisance that would endanger public health and the environment. The extreme nature of this massive expansion moves the Sycamore Landfill across that line,” said Van Collinsworth, Preserve Wild Santee’s executive director.

The expansion would infringe on more than 50 acres of coastal sage scrub and other sensitive plant communities, including nearly 20 acres that are part of San Diego’s Multiple Habitat Planning Area, affecting sensitive plant species like variegated dudleya, San Diego goldenstar, San Diego barrel cactus, Nutall’s scrub oak, willowy monardella, and sensitive wildlife species including coastal California gnatcatcher, least Bell’s vireo, red-tailed hawk, northern harrier and white-tailed kite.

“The change from a large landfill to a gigantic industrial facility operating 24 hours a day will have devastating consequences for wildlife and rare plant communities,” said John Buse, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These effects could and should have been avoided, but the city, which receives fees from waste processed at Sycamore Landfill, chose to maximize the intake of garbage at the expense of the environment.”

The groups are represented by San Diego attorney Kevin Johnson.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places

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