On Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors will hold a permit review discussion for the Keller Canyon Landfill outside the City of Pittsburg.
The board will hear two recommendations by staff:
- ACCEPT report on status of third annual Keller Canyon Landfill land use permit review.
- DIRECT staff to continue the third annual Keller Canyon Landfill land use permit review at the Planning Commission and report to the Board of Supervisors at the conclusion of the permit review process.
This is the 5th Keller Canyon Land Use Permit Review since 2014 which evaluates landfill compliance along with a variety of other guidelines, however, multiple attempts to hold the review were postponed because of odor complaints.
There is also complaints of Litter, Dust and Visibility, along with the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard potentially placing hazardous material in the facility.
According to the County Staff Report:
ODORS: A primary complaint of residents over the past year has been odors emanating from the landfill. The landfill operator has implemented several best management practices (BMPs) to address odors potentially migrating off-site. The operator has contracted with odor experts, installed odor suppression devices, and continues to routinely monitor/inspect potential on-site odor sources, including leachate tanks. The operator conducts regular odor investigations on and off-site. Several landfill employees automatically receive copies of all odor complaints at the time they are submitted through the County’s website, ensuring that the landfill operator is made aware of complaints immediately. In addition to the operator, the LEA also receives email notifications automatically for each odor complaint submitted through the online complaint form on the County’s website. Provided below is a monthly breakdown of odor complaints submitted through the County’s on-line system starting with September 2017:
- September 2017 = 1 complaint
- October 2017 = 31 complaints
- November 2017 = 8 complaints
- December 2017 – 13 complaints
- January 2018 = 36 complaints
- February 2018 = 49 complaints
- March 2018 = 27 complaints
- April 2018 = 2 complaints
- May 2018 = 1 complaints
- June 2018 = 0 complaints
- July 2018 = 2 complaints
- August 2018 = 6 complaints
- September 2018 = 0 complaints
- October 2018 = 12 complaints
- November 2018 = 7 complaints
A noticeable pattern shows the vast majority of complaints are generally submitted in the winter months. This is also reflected in the 2016 / 2017 complaint log.
LITTER: Since the beginning of 2018, eight litter complaints were submitted to the LEA and/or Department of Conservation and Development (DCD). Staff investigated the litter complaints and also forwarded the complaints to the operator to address on-site clean-up. The complaints could not be confirmed, as the submitted photo evidence did not show litter blowing off site or through the community.
The operator deploys a litter crew on-site to clear debris from the litter fences, but also collects litter from the buffer areas (open hillsides surrounding the disposal area). On windy days, the operator will increase the size of the litter crew as needed. It is known that this area of the County can experience high winds, which can make it more challenging to control litter on-site. The landfill operator is responsible for controlling and containing the litter on-site. The operator is required to remove litter from the litter fences daily. Since the LEA and the operator already receive email notifications of odor complaints through the County’s online complaint form, DCD staff is currently seeking to modify the online odor complaint form to provide for submittal of litter complaints that will rely on a feature that allows for the uploading of digital photos. Staff hopes to implement these modifications either before the end of the year, or early next year. In the meantime, when DCD staff receives a litter complaint, that complaint is forwarded to both the operator and the LEA for appropriate response and the LEA follows up with the complainant.
DUST & VISIBILITY: Certain previously noted site improvements that can help reduce potential off-site odors should also reduce potential off-site visibility and dust. For example, moving the disposal activity further from sensitive receptors is expected to reduce concerns about dust and visability. Trucks entering and leaving the landfill continue to be visible along the main access road, but the operator also recently hydro-seeded 60 acres of the landfill that will help with visual and future dust impacts.
HUNTERS POINT NAVAL SHIPYARD (HPNS): On April 21, 2018, the San Francisco Chronicle published an article regarding material that may have been sent to KCL back in 2010-2011. The article alleged falsified documentation associated with radiological waste from HPNS that was sent to one or more landfills across the state, including KCL. The LEA is working with state and federal agencies, in coordination with DCD and the landfill operator, to investigate if any of the radioactive waste material in question was disposed of at KCL. If radiological waste was disposed at KCL, the investigation will examine if there are potential health concerns for employees and local residents and what, if any, remedial actions are necessary.
At the Board’s direction, on May 1, 2018, CCEH staff prepared a brief report related to the allegations printed in the newspaper. At the end of May, CCEH put out a Request for Qualifications / Proposal (RFQ/P) in order to contract with a consultant to recommend the most appropriate means of assessing the landfill and surrounding community to detect the presence of any potential radioactive material that may have been disposed at KCL. During the May 1, 2018, Board meeting, the District V Supervisor requested a community meeting be held for residents of Pittsburg and Bay Point, with representatives from applicable federal, state and local agencies on hand to discuss the on-going investigation and future potential testing for radioactive material. CCEH organized a community meeting held on June 21, 2018, at the Ambrose Community Center in Bay Point. Experts from the Radiologic Health Branch of the state Department of Public Health, US Navy, San Francisco Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB), and other state and local agencies were in attendance to speak and/or answer questions.
Over the course of six weeks, between the end of July through early September, the County conducted a solicitation process. This involved CCEH collaborating with DCD, the City of Pittsburg, the landfill operator, and a representative of the local community to review the RFQ/Ps received by CCEH and interviewing the qualified consultants. After some follow up inquiries were made, and responses received, a potential consultant was selected. CCEH has entered into a contract with the chosen consultant, TRC Solutions. The consultant is reviewing initial information and data provided by the LEA. The LEA has introduced the consultant to representatives from the following key agencies involved with the Hunters Point site: U.S. Navy, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, California Department of Toxic Substances, and the California Department of Public Health Radiological Health Branch as well as the City of Pittsburg and the Keller Canyon Landfill. Pursuant to the terms of the contract, over the next six months, the consultant is expected to gather and analyze data, provide next step recommendations, conduct process to gather community concerns and convene a community meeting.