By Daniel Borsuk
After listening to the health and safety concerns of several Pittsburg residents living near the Keller Canyon Landfill, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted 3-2 to reject extending the operator’s land use permit from March 22 to April 22, 2017 to have trucks continue the dumping of construction and disposal materials on the landfill.
At the request of board chair Federal Glover, Supervisors Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill and Diane Burgis of Brentwood agreed with the supervisor from Pittsburg to order the landfill operator, Republic for Northern California, to stop having trucks loaded with toxic C&D materials dumped at the landfill commencing March 22.
“We cannot turn our heads to bad behavior,” said Glover, who noted the operator has not presented to him or the county an alternative during the past 18 months when the county and Republic agreed to a new landfill use permit.
One of the changes in the land use permit inked on Sept. 22, 2015 included stopping the disposal of C&D materials beginning Sept. 22, 2017.
“We are evaluating our options,” Michael Capiro, area president of Republic for Northern California, told the Contra Costa Herald after the board’s vote. “I am disappointed with the board’s action.”
“This is a county wide issue that affects everyone,” said Supervisor Candace Andersen of Danville, who voted against Glover’s motion to adhere to the March 22, 2017 direct haul C&D land use permit deadline.
Supervisor John Gioia of El Cerrito also voted against the Glover motion, noting that up to 120 jobs are potentially at stake with this action.
“Extend the date to August,” pleaded Ken Edgecombe of the Operating Engineers Union Local 3. “This landfill creates good jobs.”
Opened in 1992, Keller Canyon Landfill generates about $4.3 million in annual revenue for the county, said Deidra Dingnan, Conservation Programs Manager for the Contra Costa County Department of Conservation and Development. Those funds go towards a variety of county programs such as roads, courts and a mitigation fee program when funds are disbursed in December.
But Pittsburg City Manager Laura Wright said the city has received up to 90 complaints from citizens about health and environmental issues.
“This is unprecedented. These materials need to go to a transfer station,” said Wright.
“Truck traffic has increased and this has been tearing up portions of roadsway on Bailey Road,” said Greg Sorio, who lives near the landfill. This has created a safety hazard to residents using the thoroughfare either as pedestrians or as motorists, he said.
“I want to be fair and I want to be sure we are fiscally responsible,” said Supervisor Burgis. “I want to reduce the costs on the wear and tear on our roads.”
County Administrator Gets 5% Pay Hike
In other action, supervisors unanimously agreed to increase the annual salary of Contra Costa County Administrator David J. Twa 5%, effective Jan. 1, 2018. His pay will rise from his 2017 salary of $319,464.72 to $335,437.96.
Twa, who has served as county administrator since 2008, will also receive an administrative leave increase of 80 hours.
The board extended Twa’s contract through Dec. 31, 2020.
Fire Chief Warns of Rising EMT Crisis
Serving as the Contra Costa ‘County Fire Protection District, supervisors unanimously approved a $46,500 grant from the Tesoro Foundation. The fire district will spend the funds to buy hazardous multi-gas detection devices, said CCCFPD Fire Chief Jeff Carman.
Carman also alerted supervisors to an emerging issue at the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station that is putting a strain on the county’s EMT services. Every night at the end of train service, the fire district receives calls from people who’ve been riding the trains all day for shelter and comfort but are then forced off the transit system at closing time. They then call 911 because they have nowhere to go.
“In the last 12 months, we saw almost 600 patients and transported 545 of them to emergency rooms,” he said. “This creates a public health emergency because it takes so many ambulances and fire rescue resources out of service and increases response times for others who may need emergency services.”
Carman plans to address the issue of pooling the resources of BART Fire/EMS, County/Health Services, County EMS, and the City of Pittsburg.