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Environment

New Investors Resurrect Gregory Canyon Landfill Plans In North County

The site of the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill is shown in this undated photo.
Nicholas McVicker
The site of the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill is shown in this undated photo.

New Investors Resurrect Gregory Canyon Landfill Plans In North County
A new investor has stepped in to resurrect plans for a major new landfill in Gregory Canyon after the company that wants to build it narrowly avoided bankruptcy.

After 20 years, two ballot measures and $60 million of investor money, plans to build a landfill in North County's Gregory Canyon appeared to be dead. Permits, still in the works, were rescinded because of unpaid fees earlier this year. There were reports of a possible bankruptcy filing.

But Nancy Chase, spokeswoman for Gregory Canyon Ltd., said a new investor, Sovereign Capital, has stepped in to replace the original East Coast investors.

“I think it’s interesting that it’s a San Diego-based capital company,” Chase said. “We have submitted a budget to them of what it’s going to cost to complete the project. I think we are back on track.”

Map of proposed Gregory Canyon landfill, near Highway 76, east of Interstate 15
Gregory Canyon Ltd.
Map of proposed Gregory Canyon landfill, near Highway 76, east of Interstate 15

Chase would not be specific but said the new budget is $2 million to $10 million. She believes all permits will be final in 12 to 14 months.

The original investors, who could have seen zero return on their investment if the project had declared bankruptcy, have been offered pennies on the dollar under the new deal, Chase confirmed.

Once permits are obtained, Chase said, construction costs would be in the tens of millions of dollars, but the landfill could be developed in stages.

The site, east of Interstate 15, is in the San Luis Rey River valley, near the Pala Indian reservation. Plans include trucking up to a million tons of trash a year to the dump for 30 years. The trash could come from San Diego or other surrounding areas.

The plan’s opponents include environmental groups that say even state-of–the-art landfill liners would eventually leak, threatening groundwater supplies. The city of Oceanside, for example, plans to generate up to 50 percent of its future water supplies from groundwater basins connected to the San Luis Rey aquifer.

Shasta Gaughen of the Pala Band of Mission Indians also believes Gregory Canyon is not the right place to put a landfill. The mountain next to the site is considered sacred by the Indians. Gaughen is skeptical of Chase’s projected time line.

“She’s been saying ‘a few months’ for 20 years, so we don’t put any validity to that timeline,” Gaughen said. “We have looked into Sovereign, and all we can tell is that they are involved in rescuing bankrupt and distressed properties, and they are not a landfill company.”

Gregory Canyon Ltd. was in the process of applying for permits from the county Air Pollution Control District and from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both permits were withdrawn for lack of payment of fees, but Chase hopes they will be reinstated once the fees are paid.

The project also has yet to obtain a permit from the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board.

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