Privatizing Miramar Landfill Poses Serious Environmental Risks

by on November 12, 2010 · 3 comments

in Economy, Environment, Health, San Diego

Miramar landfill trash

by Sierra Club / Originally published November 9, 2010

State law requires public review of potential impacts before proceeding

The Sierra Club San Diego Chapter on Thursday, Nov. 9th, asked the City of San Diego to comply with state law requiring public review of likely environmental consequences before taking the dramatic step of privatizing the city’s only public landfill. Turning over the Miramar landfill to a private operator, as the City proposed in a request for bids issued in July, could cause significant environmental damage and expense.

The San Diego Chapter cited risks inherent in operating the landfill for profit rather than for the public good include:

  • Increased usage shortening the life of the landfill & requiring a new landfill location.
  • Increased greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Increased traffic, as private operators have the incentive to accept trash from anywhere.
  • Leakage of toxic fluid into the San Clemente Canyon stream and eventually Mission Bay.
  • Reduction of greenery recycling.
  • Disruption of protected wetlands and endangered species’ habitats.

State Law Cited

In a memo delivered to city administrators and officials on November 9th, Sierra Club attorney Pamela Epstein stated:

“State laws require public information and input on decisions of such public significance. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a public review process for any decision by a public agency that may cause a direct or reasonably foreseeable indirect physical change in the environment. That clearly includes a landfill privatization contract.”

“After a contract is approved, the public will lose the ability to participate in decisions regarding the City’s waste and its effects on the environment,” Epstein wrote. “A private company is under no obligation to open its meetings.”

When the City of Stockton privatized its water system, the Superior Court ruled in 2005 that environmental impact review was required because “common sense dictates that methods of operation will differ between the government and private sector based on… the profit motive.”

The Sierra Club has asked the City to suspend further action on privatizing the Miramar Landfill until an Environmental Impact Report is done, in compliance with state law.

Founded in 1892, the Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization. There are more than 700,000 members in 50 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. The San Diego Chapter was founded in 1948 and has more than 12,000 members. Serving San Diego and Imperial Counties, it strives to preserve the special nature of San Diego through education, activism and advocacy.

For more info, contact Richard Miller, Sierra Club San Diego Development and Membership Coordinator, Phone: (858) 569-6005; Fax: (858) 569-0294;

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Marisag November 12, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I have passed by there several times recently when I could smell the landfill by the time I reached Clairemont Drive and 805. I couldn’t imagine how bad it will be if it gets worse. It smells like death.


avatar nunya November 12, 2010 at 8:26 pm

The landfill is supposed to be full in 2012. I remember reading this Reader article around the same time that they finally brought in a recycle dumpster where I live. Not that most of my idiot neighbors bother with it. *sigh* I tried to find some shorter articles but all that came up were SDUT articles and they were pay-per-view articles. Ewwwwwwww. SO not happenin’


avatar JEC November 15, 2010 at 9:21 am

I’m glad the Sierra Club is pursuing this issue. The environmental concerns is not the only problem with this idea. Born out of privitized ideology, selling the landfill is poor financial policy. Run the numbers, check the math, consider the facts – all point in another direction. So why? It corruption, pure and simple. Those officials who are pushing for the sale should be investigated. Or at least have their math skills questioned.


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