20 March 2009

Olinda Alpha Landfill

Astride atop the Chino Hills on the northern side of the west end of Carbon Canyon is one of three landfills operated by the County of Orange, the Olinda Alpha. A 565-acre site, of which 420 are permitted to accept refuse, Olinda Alpha is, by far, the oldest of the three, opening in 1960. Consequently, it is also the first to be slated for closure, which, according to the "Waste & Recycling" page of the county's web site, is December 2021. Interestingly, the Garden Grove city web site notes that the closure date is 2013 with a potential expansion to 2021.

Olinda Alpha has a capacity of 8,000 tons per day, although it was receiving about 85% of that, or 6,800 tons, according to the Garden Grove site. Notably, that city alone provides about 30% of the total daily refuse deposited at Olinda Alpha.

By contrast, Bowerman landfill in Irvine near the 241/133 toll road interchange and close to Limestone Canyon Regional Park and which opened in 1990 (with a 2053 projected closure) has a capacity of 8,500 tons of 341 permitted out of 725 total acres.

Prima Deschecha in San Juan Capistrano, south of Ortega Highway, which opened in 1976 (and would cease operations in 2067) has 1,530 acres with 699 permitted and a capacity of 4,000 tons per day.

As with the other county landfills, the proposed end use of Olinda Alpha is as a regional park (actually, Bowerman is said to be a "public park," which may indicate that the county would not operate the park.)

During the recent fires in November, a branch of which started very close to the landfill, there was some damage, including a totaled vehicle, a destroyed structure, and affected pipelines. Concerning this latter, one feature of Olinda Alpha that is common in many landfills is that gas (presumably methane) produced from the buried refuse is processed through a power plan to generate electricity.

So, there is about fifteen years (originally only four, assuming that the date noted on the Garden Grove site is accurate) left for this landfill, while its brethren in South County will be open for decades longer.

One wonders, however, where future landfills will be or whether all of the county's trash will be sent to remote desert landfills by train, which has been touted as the future of refuse disposal for the megalopolis that is the Los Angeles Metropolitan Region.

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