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Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
North County Times
March 29, 1999


Here in San Diego County, why does it seem we will do anything to avoid having to face the reality of our burgeoning population. As roads and freeways become gridlocked, we widen them while planning new ones. Finally admitting to a water shortage, we call for the purification of toilet water. Running out of places to dump our garbage, we plot to place a landfill in the worst place possible. Although we are wise enough to live in paradise, we are not smart enough to keep it so.

I have refrained from weighing in on the Gregory Canyon Landfill issue until the Environmental Impact Report was in, and it's a good thing too. Having waited, it can now be reported that once again Big Money and local politicians have set their sites on an environmentally sensitive canyon far from the seats of power who stand the most to gain from such an arrangement.

The North County Development Company, co-owned by Hal Jenson, friend and supporter of Supervisor Bill Horn and David Lowry have joined forces with Waste Management Inc., who donated $50,000 to Brian Bilbray's Yacht club, have formed a company called Gregory Canyon Ltd. have decided to place a commercial dump on a 1700 acre site that straddles the San Luis Rey River.

On a purely anthropocentric level, I have to question the safety of placing a landfill basically on top of one of only four rivers in San Diego County. Of course the proponents of the dump will tell concerned residents that they plan to install an impermeable plastic liner beneath this super dump, as well as a drainage system, that is supposed to prevent contaminated leachate from polluting the river, local aquifers, and hundreds of wells in the surrounding area. "Supposed to" being the operative phrase.

What they will probably not tell the Pala Band of Mission Indians or their neighbors is the fact that no plastic liner is completely leak-proof, or that Waste Management Inc. has a shoddy record in regards to preventing leaking. Considering that water shortage is becoming a major issue, does it really make sense to place a waste dump so close to such a precious resource? Basically folks we are talking about a giant condom for the landfill, and we all know how reliable those are. In this case the best course of action is abstinence.

Biocentrically speaking, the proposal to fill Gregory Canyon with garbage is insane. The fact that this project will erase critical habitat for a number of endangered and protected species makes it unacceptable. The Arroya Toad, Least Bell's Vireo, Golden Eagle, and Engleman Oaks must be protected. Any talk of relocation and mitigation is just smoke and mirrors. Mitigation is a far cry from the protection of existing ecosystems. And relocation harks back to a time when the American government decided it needed to "relocate" native Americans. That decision too was based on making a white minority rich and comfortable.

The Pala Indians have stated that Gregory Mountain is sacred, and used for prayer. To translate into Christian terms, this is their church. This alone should be enough to stop the greedy boys dead in their tracks. I wonder if any of the proponents of this toxic boondoggle considered using their churches for waste disposal. But then again, dumping on Native Americans has been a cornerstone of American democracy. Why stop now?

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