East County Indians Hire Ohio Firm to Build Landfill

    Campo Indians have hired an d an Ohio-based company to build and operate a $15 million landfill and trash recycling operation on its East County reservation. by Gov. Deukmejian.

    Mike Patton, a vice president of Mid-American Waste Systems Inc., said his company already has the necessary financial backing to develop the 600-acre waste facility and expects to begin accepting 3,000 tons of waste a day at the reservation near Boulevard beginning in mid-1992.

    The tribe has already hired consultants to conduct a full environmental study of the proposed 30 million-ton landfill and 'has begun the process of obtaining approval of the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs for the project.

    The county and city of San Diego have put the 15,000-acre reservation on their list of 10 candidates to replace the Miramar, Sycamore and otay landfills, which are scheduled to close around the end of the century.

    The nearly 5-year-old Ohio company, which began publicly trading its stock in May, had 1989 revenues of $85 million and is still rapidly expanding.  The firm operates 14 landfills in five states and is developing new waste facilities in South Carolina and Florida.

    Under the terms of the new -contract, Mid-American would hold the rights to operate the landfill for its expected 35- to 40-year lifespan. The economically depressed Campo tribe would share in the profits, and its members would receive preference for landfill jobs.

    "We are building a state-of-the-art facility that will pass federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) standards and any standard that California or San Diego County implements," said Patton.

    "We always use the best available technology," said Patton. "We can convince the surrounding residents that we're not going to play fast and loose with their environment."

    But Patton confirmed that, in keeping with the Indians, claim to full sovereignty for their lands, neither his firm nor the Campo tribe will apply for state or local government permits to build the waste facility.

    That is troublesome to Donna Tisdale, one of the leaders of Backcountry Against the Dump (BAD), a group of residents of neighboring Boulevard who have been fighting against the Campo project because of concerns that it will pollute their ground water supply. regulation," she said. "He (Patton) is telling me he can do it safely. Nobody could ever convince me of that."

    Said Tisdale, "Unfortunately, they (the tribe) have no love of the land. They just want to make a quick buck off of it."

    BAD has been hoping for the governor's approval of AB 3477 by Assemblyman Steve Peace, D-Chula Vista. The measure, which passed the Legislature on Aug. 31, would require landfills on Indian reservations to comply with state environmental regulations and to obtain state permits.

    Peace shares BAD's concern that the aquifer could be contaminated by the Campo project, and he contends that court precedents show Indian sovereignty does not make the tribe immune from state landfill regulations.

    But after a meeting with Pat Kenady of the governor's lobbying office, Tisdale was doubtful that Deukmejian will sign the bill. "Kenady didn't want to hear anything we had to say," she said. "It was very frustrating."

    David Takashima, an aide to Peace who has been trying to persuade the administration to sign AB 3477, likewise is predicting a veto.

    "At this point, it seems like we've hit a brick wall in the governor's office," said Takashima. "It's real hard to figure how we are going to climb over that wall. Whenever we bring up an issue, they bring up another issue to deal with."

    Two different branches of the administration -- the Department of Health Services and the Integrated Waste Management Board -- are feuding over which agency should regulate landfills on Indian reservations, Takashima said.

    Legislative sources also say Deukmejian's close ties to Armenian-Americans in the waste management industry who helped elect him governor are hurting the bill's chances.

    The governor's press office declined to discuss the matter. Campo Indian representatives did not return repeated phone calls seeking their comment.
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Copyright 1990 The San Diego Union-Tribune
The San Diego Union-Tribune
September 20, 1990, Thursday
SECTION: LOCAL; Ed. 5,6,2,3,4,1; Pg. B-1
BYLINE: Daniel C. Carson; Staff Writer