Anxiety is growing in Eagle Rock as Glendale City Council prepares to vote Tuesday, September 20 on buying machinery for a permanent methane plant. The site is Scholl Canyon dump, at the north end of Figueroa Street.
Residents of L.A., joined by Glendale neighbors and backed up by several local elected officials, have repeatedly labeled such a plant a serious safety threat. Some cite the massive wildfire in August 2019, triggered by arson, that engulfed the 134 Freeway and prompted evacuations. But unless three members of Glendale City Council act to stop it, the biogas plant at the site of Glendale’s 61-year-old urban dump could proceed.
“We all know this hillside is a dangerous area to industrialize,” says Eileen Hatrick, a former principal at Dahlia Heights Elementary in Eagle Rock and longtime advocate for the environment. “It is located in a high fire hazard zone. It is close to an earthquake fault. And parks, schools, and residential neighborhoods are nearby.”
Glendale voters shook up the status quo in the June 7 election. Opposition to the biogas plant played a significant role. Democrat and incumbent Council member Dan Brotman and newcomer Elen Asatryan, a respected progressive with strong ties to small business and environmental advocates, were top vote-getters.
Ousted from Council amid false claims of voting irregularities was Vrej Agajanian. In November 2021, Agajanian defied a tide of critical public comment and unanimous opposition by Glendale’s Planning Commission to provide a pivotal third vote to approve a biogas plant at the dump site.
Brotman argued then that such a plant was not the least harmful option for handling methane emitted by the rotting garbage in the dump and that better alternatives remained to be explored. Since methane levels at the dump site will gradually subside after 2030, building a biogas plant there also raises questions of sunk cost and inefficiency.
But at the Aug. 23 meeting of Glendale City Council, it was Mayor Ardy Kassakhian, not Brotman, who seconded a motion by Councilmember Asatryan to reconsider the Nov. 2021 approval of the biogas plant. That seconded motion has yet to be placed on a future Council agenda for official action.
In 2019, a crescendo of protests over pollution from the dump by Eagle Rock, Glendale, and Pasadena residents forced Glendale to take off the table a dump-expansion plan announced in 2014.
“Solution number one is closing the dump,” adds Hatrick in Eagle Rock. “Glendale should return the canyon to recreational uses by our communities that have endured this dump for too long. Solution number two is something Glendale has not seriously considered, and that’s piping the methane generated by the dump to the city’s current industrial gas plant at Grayson to be processed. The pipeline from Scholl to Grayson already exists and was used in the past for this purpose. Instead of industrializing the dump past the point of no return, that option appears far safer, eliminates flaring, creates energy, and seems more cost-effective.”
Take a moment to tell the 5 City Council members your concern about building a methane plant at Scholl Dump: