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Proposed Gregory Canyon Landfill Digs Itself Out Of A Hole

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Gregory Canyon, January 2013

The proposal to build a new landfill in Gregory Canyon in North County appears to have come back to life.

The developer says new investors are backing the project and the company is already preparing to reapply for permits that expired for lack of payment. The original group of investors declared bankruptcy last year, but the company has since restructured its debt with the help of a private equity company, Sovereign Capital Management Group.

Nancy Chase, spokeswoman for the developer, said there will always be a need for new landfills.

“There’s still a million tons of North County waste still going every place but North County," she said. “It’s more environmentally damaging to schlep trash hundreds of miles away.“

Opponents like Shasta Gaughen with the neighboring Pala Band of Mission Indians say any landfill is likely to leak eventually, no matter how state-of-the-art the installed liner may be.

Gaughen said that after 20 years and $60 million, it’s surprising investors keep trying to get permission to build a new landfill.

“It’s still financially not a good idea,” she said. “It’s still environmentally not a good idea, and we still don’t need a new landfill, considering the environment regulations for recycling in California. They’ve been becoming obsolete for a long time. It’s sort of like buying a Model T when you could be buying a Tesla.”

The project got public support from two initiatives 10 years apart in 1994 and 2004.

However, it has several opponents.

The city of Oceanside, for example, has invested millions in recycling ground water, which is in the watershed of the San Luis Rey river that runs past the foot of the proposed landfill site.

The newly restructured company has started working with agencies like the county to re-file permit applications, Chase said. One of the most difficult permits to obtain is from the Army Corps of Engineers, she said.

“That’s not quite going back to the beginning, but it’s kind of going back to the middle,” Chase said.

The project still has not passed muster with the San Diego County Water Authority, which has a major pipeline running nearby.

Chase said the new investors are closer to the project because they are locally based, unlike the old investors, who were from the East Coast.

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