Public comment period begins for permit to expand landfill capacity

Waste Solutions seeks to increase capacity by 444,000 cubic yards.

A state office said July 15 it had opened a public comment period for an application to change the slope reconfiguration of the John Smith Road Landfill near Hollister in what may be a prelude to its expansion.

The state’s Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) said in a notice that landfill operator Waste Solutions Group of San Benito had applied to increase the landfill’s capacity by 444,000 cubic yards on May 26 and that the state agency accepted the application on June 24. 

If approved, the added capacity means that San Benito County could continue to accept in and out-of-county waste for another year. The expansion is equal to a professional football field (124 yards by 53 yards) filled seven feet deep in waste.

This county is separately considering a 388-acre expansion which is under evaluation for environmental impacts. A 45-day public review phase is expected in the coming months. San Benito County did not provide an estimate when it will release the document.

Ben Escotto, senior environmental scientist and supervisor with CalRecycle, said his agency has until Oct. 22 to accept or reject the slope change application. He could not estimate when CalRecycle might decide.

This summer, as the landfill reached a 15-year capacity for in-county trash, the county gave a temporary extension for outside trash until Sept. 19.

The July 15 notice says there will be no change in the current permitted tonnage, acreage, hours of operation, disposal footprint or maximum elevation of the landfill.

If the slope reconfiguration permit is accepted, it will take effect immediately, Escotto said. 

Resident Briggite Baumann-Thop told BenitoLink that people living at Santana Ranch, a new development near the landfill, are concerned about liquid that leaches from waste as well as soil and water contamination. 

Residents wishing to comment on the application may submit it in writing to CalRecycle, attn: Megan Emslander, PO Box 4025, Sacramento, CA 95814 or [email protected]


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Noe Magaña

Noe Magaña is BenitoLink Co-Editor and Content Manager. He joined BenitoLink as reporter intern and was soon brought on staff as a BenitoLink reporter. He also experiments with videography and photography. He is a San Benito High School alumnus with a bachelor's in journalism from San Jose State and a Liberal Arts Associate's Degree from Gavilan College. Noe also attended San Jose City College and was the managing editor for the City College Times, the school's newspaper. He was a reporter and later a copy editor for San Jose State's Spartan Daily. He is a USC Center for Health Journalism 2020 California Fellow.