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    Easy Fire damages Tierra Rejada Landfill; requires $2.2 million repairs

    By Michael Hernandez

    SIMI VALLEY—The Easy Fire that burned more than 1,700 acres and forced thousands in Simi Valley, Moorpark and Thousand Oaks to leave their homes last October has resulted in damage to the Tierra Rejada Landfill which will require four agencies to share the repair costs of $2.2 million dollars.  More than 700 firefighters (three were injured) fought the fire which destroyed two structures and threatened the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

    The cost of the real damage will fall upon the City of Simi Valley, the Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District (which owns the property), Ventura County and the Ventura Regional Sanitation District (VRSD)—with each agency responsible for one-quarter of the repair costs, or approximately $548,554. 

    During the Easy wildfire, significant damage occurred to the Landfill’s gas collection system and the vegetated cover over the Landfill.  Both are required in order to control landfill gas emissions; prevent old, buried waste from mobilizing during rain events; and to limit the amount of surface water that can infiltrate into the buried waste.  Repairs will be made to the gas collection system, the landfill cover assessment as well as drainage systems.

    The Landfill’s gas collection system consists of several 2-inch PVC wells that were installed through the 26-acre waste footprint within the buried waste mass.  These wells reach the surface and are connected to a series of above ground pipes that transfer any landfill gas that is generated from the degrading waste to a small flare that destroys the methane.

    During the fire, all of the above ground connector pipe was destroyed, as well as many valves and fittings on the wells.   The flare also incurred damage to its electrical control panel as well as to pipe and fittings that connect to the flare inlet.  Approximately 7,000 feet of pipe has also been replaced and reconnected to the flare (as of early December 2019).

    The Landfill is required to have a minimum of two feet of cover soil over the waste.   Prior to the fire, the site had approximately 47 years of dense native growth that helped to protect this cover.  Once the cover vegetation was destroyed by the Easy fire, it also became apparent that the site was not providing the proper cover over the waste.   District staff estimates it will take a minimum of five years to restore the cover vegetation.

    Ongoing emergency repairs will include:

    • Restoring the thickness of soil cover to two feet across the 26-acre waste footprint;
    • Repair benches that have settled and/or eroded and no longer drain effectively;
    • Develop grading plans and obtain grading permits from the City of Simi Valley to use the onsite soil for these repair efforts, if required;
    • Improve existing drainage conveyances to more effectively manage and control storm water runoff;
    • Hydo-seed the site cover soil upon completion of cover repairs;
    • Maintain a program to watch and repair the site during forecasted rain in order to prevent erosion until new improvements are constructed.

    The Tierra Rejada Landfill located on a 66-acre site in the City of Simi Valley is one mile west of Madera Road on Tierra Rejada Road and was operated by Ventura County from December 1962 to May 1972.   Upon closing, Ventura County transferred its entire refuse disposal program and all disposal related responsibilities to the Ventura Regional Sanitation District (VRSD) with complete closure of the Landfill by the termination date of the lease on Nov. 30, 1972.

    In 1975, land on which the Landfill is located was donated by the property owners to the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District with an additional portion of the former Landfill area subsequently acquired by the Simi Valley Sanitation District, a governmental entity, which is now part of the City of Simi Valley.

    On May 31, 1991, the Regional Water Quality Control Board (Los Angeles Region) issued a Cleanup and Abatement Order that initially cost $500,000 for all four parties to repair a chemical leakage with high levels of toxic chemicals leaking into ground water beneath the property and flowing into the Arroyo Simi Channel.  Two years later, the final costs were amended to almost two million dollars with the agencies sharing these costs equally.

    Cal Recycle. Landfill closes

    VRSD approves its repair costs for fixing Tierra Rejada Landfill

    VENTURA—The Ventura Regional Sanitation District, the lead agency in the Tierra Rejada Consortium (which also includes Ventura County, the City of Simi Valley and the Rancho Simi Recreation District) approved moving forward on repairing the Tierra Rejada Landfill after hearing staff report on the damages caused by the Easy Fire at Thursday’s (Jan. 16th) Board of Directors meeting held at the District Office, 1001 Partridge Drive.

    The nine-member Board of Directors includes:   Kevin Kildee, chair (Camarillo); Rick Araiza (Santa Paula); Mark Austin (Fillmore); Jim Friedman (Ventura), Laura Hernandez (Port Hueneme), Ed Jones (Thousand Oaks), Bob Nast (Special Districts), Bert Perello, vice-chair (Oxnard), and William Weirick (Ojai).  Araiza was absent from the meeting.

    Board Director Bert Perello expressed that if the appropriate repairs did not satisfy state regulators that the consortium could be facing costs of between $5-25 million to reconstruct the closed Tierra Rejada Landfill by current state laws. Board Director Laura Hernandez asked district staff to see if the consortium could receive any fire management grants for the repairs to be done.  

    VRSD General Manager Chris Theisen told board directors that the other consortium members responsible for the Tierra Rejada Landfill were waiting for the Ventura Regional Sanitation District (the lead operator and agency in charge) to approve the appropriation. He also commented that when the Tierra Rejada Landfill had been closed there were no requirements for reserves to maintain the closed landfill.   This has since been remedied but the consortium does not have reserves for unforeseen repairs such as those caused by the Easy Fire.

    The other agencies will now schedule the Tierra Rejada Landfill for approval as follows:  The City of Simi Valley at its next City Council meeting on Jan. 27; Ventura County at its Feb. 4th meeting; and Rancho Simi Recreation and Parks District at its Feb. 6 meeting.

    In other business, the Ventura Regional Sanitation District selected Bert Perello (Oxnard) to serve as 2020 chair with Jim Friedman (Ventura) selected as vice-chair.   A decision will be made by Perello (along with Chris Theisen) concerning which Board Director will attend the Washington D.C. Policy Forum of California Association of Sanitation Agencies (CASA) on Feb. 24-26th.

    The Ventura Regional Sanitation District was organized in 1970 pursuant to the County Sanitation District Act of the California Health and Safety Code Section 4700.  The agency meets the daily sanitation needs of more than 600,000 Ventura County residents. The VRSD added solid waste disposal to its range of services in 1972 when the agency assumed operation of Ventura County’s publicly owned landfills.  The Ventura Regional Sanitation District operates one active  solid waste disposal site (Toland Road Landfill near Santa Paula) and is responsible for post-closure operations at five more sites.

    The next regular board meeting is at the Ventura Regional Sanitation District office, 1001 Partridge Drive in Ventura on Feb. 6th.  For more information contact General Manager Chris Theisen at [email protected] or call Julie Rodriguez, Clerk to the Board at (805) 658-4600.

    Cal Recycle. Landfill closes

     

    Michael Hernandez, Co-Founder of the Citizens Journal—Ventura County’s online news service; editor of the History Makers Report and founder of History Makers International—a community nonprofit serving youth and families in Ventura County, is a former Southern California daily newspaper journalist and religion and news editor. He has worked 25 years as a middle school teacher in Monrovia and Los Angeles Unified School Districts. Mr. Hernandez can be contacted by email at [email protected]


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    1 COMMENT

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    C E Voigtsberger
    C E Voigtsberger
    2 years ago

    Only in California could the county dump suffer 2.2 million dollars worth of damage. It sounds to me like another bureaucratic department gone wild. Call it whatever fancy name you will, in the end it is still the county dump.

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