Planning commissioners approved a boundary expansion for the largest landfill in San Joaquin County late Thursday, despite critics’ fears that the decision is a step toward enlarging the landfill itself.
Forward Landfill says it requested the boundary expansion so that it can install probes to monitor methane gas just southwest of the landfill, near the Stockton Metropolitan Airport.
The 184 acres of land in question is the same land on which Forward has previously proposed expanding its landfill operations. Those plans are on hold, for now, and Forward says its request for a boundary change was not related to the future desired expansion.
Some pilots and neighboring landowners have protested any enlargement of the landfill.
While the commission’s approval Thursday does not allow any changes to Forward’s operations, opponents said it seems like a logical step toward expansion.
“You can’t tell me you’re going to increase the boundary of something, but you’re not going to increase the area,” said Larry Gaines, a Stockton pilot. “I’ve had geometry. That doesn’t fly.”
Commissioner Stan Morri said at Thursday’s meeting that enlarging the landfill itself – if proposed again – will require “extensive environ-mental review” with public comment.
“That’s your shot at it,” Morri told critics. “Not what we’re doing tonight.”
The concentration of explosive methane gas detected along Forward’s boundaries has exceeded standards since May, according to state records, and Forward has been placed on a list of solid waste facilities that are in violation of those standards.
Forward officials have said they’re trying to correct the methane problem by building new wells to collect excess gas. Probes in the expansion area would allow them to know how much gas is migrating offsite.