A publication of Work On Waste USA, Inc., 82 Judson, Canton, NY 13617 315-379-9200 August 22, 1991

Note: Waste Not took a week’s vacation in August.

San Marcos, California

Longest fought battle against a municipal waste incinerator. Citizens win first vote in 8 year battle when the incinerator contract was voted down on August 6th. But battle rages on.

Incinerator first approved in October 1982. Citizens organized to oppose incinerator in February 1983

See Waste Not # 86 for more background.

THERMO ELECTRON of Waltham, MA: Owner & Operator
TRIGA (French Company): Front end vendor
BABCOCK & WILCOX: Boiler Vendor
GOLDMAN SACHS: Financial Advisors
R.W. BECK: Engineering Consultants
LEBOUEF, LAMB, LEIBY & MAC RAE: Legal Consultants
PUBLIC FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT, INC.: Financial Advisors on contracts

In 1989 San Diego County exceeded the state ozone standard on 158 days.
In 1990, San Diego County placed 2nd for the highest levels of smog in the nation.
L.A. got first place.

August 6th: contract voted down. San Diego County supervisors voted against THERMO ELECTRON’S incinerator contract on August 6. The reason: though 4 out of the 5 supervisors are pro-incinerator even they could not vote on a contract that bequeathed total responsibility and liability for this project to the county. The contract written by Thermo Electron would have the County liable for power contract failures, ash disposal, garbage shortfalls (put or pay), etc., coupled with a per ton cost exceeding $115 --excluding landfill costs. Thermo Electron is currently re-writing the contract. San Marcos has persisted with this incinerator plan, hoping to make $75 million dollars over the life of the project (estimated at 26 years) through property taxes and host fees. San Marcos has pursued this project despite the fact that four neighboring cities are vehemently opposed to the project. Encinitas, Carlsbad and Escondido have consistently opposed this incinerator with lawsuits and united opposition from all the officials of these three cities. In the last year, Oceanside, the largest city in North San Diego County has also joined in the opposition. The leading proponents for this project are Mayor Lee Thibadeau of San Marcos and County Supervisor Brian Bilbray. The two largest cities in Supervisor Bilbray’s district are opposed to incineration and on record against allowing incinerator’s within their City limits.

The $185 million bonds issued in 1985 by the California Pollution Control Finance Authority (CPCFA) to Thermo Electron coupled with a liability-ridden contract are the major remaining issues in this incinerator battle. The CPCFA is a state agency that uses the state’s tax-exempt bonding to issue bonds to help control pollution. Because Thermo Electron was not ready to use these tax-exempt municipal bonds, the money was put in escrow. Since then, this Authority has extended that escrow. Thermo Electron’s bonds are the longest escrow this agency ever had. The citizens sued the CPCFA in 1987 because the bonds were issued without any environmental evaluation prepared for this project. All projects in California are subject to the State Environmental Quality Act (SEQA), and this suit will ultimately determine if the CPCFA can issue bonds before an environmental evaluation is done. The Citizens lost the first round at the Superior Court level but feel more confident with their appeal.

Thermo Electron’s partners over the years have included: SCA (now defunct); Genstar, Brown & Root; Combustion Engineering; American Recovery Corp. (front end); Harbert-Triga (Front-end); and now Sita-San Marcos Inc. (Sita is the parent company of Triga.) In September 1990, Harbert dropped out, taking a $25 million equity share in the San Marcos project with them. Currently the project is Thermo and Sita. Harbert’s withdrawal from this project was likely due to its $3 million loss in trying to build a 250 tpd incinerator in St. Lawrence County, NY. (The NY DEC had issued the permits to build this incinerator and to build the incinerator ash landfill in wetlands. But the St. Lawrence County incinerator was defeated politically when the county board of Legislators voted against approving the incinerator bonds in July 1990 - see Waste Not #110-111).

Thermo Electron contributed to the 1990 re-election campaign of San Marcos mayor, Lee Thibadeau, one of the incinerators strongest proponents. “...According to the statements, developers have contributed $2,250 toward Thibadeau's war chest, while another $2,540 has come from officials of Thermo Electron of Massachusetts, the firm that wants to build and operate the $300 million trash-to-energy plant... ‘Thermo Electron already has a lot of money invested in this project ($17 million by some estimates), and there is nothing wrong with them investing a little more to ensure continued support for it,’ said Thibadeau, one of the project’s biggest boosters.” The San Diego Union, October 9, 1990.

Thermo Electron bankrolls ‘YIMBYS” - “Yes, In My Back Yard”. A recent letter-writing campaign soliciting support for the controversial proposed trash-to-energy plant failed to mention the project developer financially backed the effort. The mailer, put out by ‘Citizens for a San Marcos Solution,’ asked registered voters in San Marcos to join the group, which is supporting the construction of the controversial plant at the San Marcos landfill. The letter failed to mention that Thermo Electron Inc., the Massachusetts-based firm proposing to build the project, is bankrolling Citizens for a San Marcos Solution....” Blade-Citizen, 10-24-90. “Postal Service employees in San Marcos confirmed yesterday that Leslie Greve, general manager of North County Resource Recovery Associates, had signed for a bulk mailing permit required to mail the letter. Greve’s company is controlled and primarily owned by Thermo Electron...Larry O’Donnell, a political consultant who returned calls on behalf of Greve yesterday, said he was hired by Thermo Electron to provide ‘staff support’ for the ‘grass-roots committee’ that wrote the letter. However, O’Donnell, a vice-president with Senior Policy Associates Inc. of San Diego, declined to say whether Thermo Electron paid for the mailing...’We have a consulting contract with Thermo Electron,’ O’Donnell said, ‘and I can’t get into specifics about (the letter)...” San Diego Tribune, 10-20-90. On July 30, 1991, opponents of the incinerator were a little taken back when they entered the San Diego Town Hall for the incinerator hearing to be met with fresh faced youngsters, dressed in white with green sashes, and buttons which declared: “Yes, in my backyard.”

The proposed ash landfill: never settled. According to one opponent, an incinerator without an ash landfill is like approving a development without any sewers. A proposed expansion of the current San Marcos landfill needs approval. An environmental impact report for the the landfill expansion was rejected because it failed to adequately address the potential groundwater pollution. This project has forged ahead without definite plans for the incinerator ash - though the County has responsibility for the ash. The City of San Diego has its own landfill.

For more information contact either Tom Erwin at 619-436-4429 or Bruce Hamilton at 619-744-7952. Both Tom and Bruce are members of the North County Concerned Citizens, PO Box 2042, San Marcos, CA 92069, the citizens’ group that has spearheaded the opposition to the San Marcos incinerator since 1983.

WASTE NOT # 161 A publication of Work on Waste USA, published 48 times a year. Annual rates are: Groups & Non-Profits $50; Students & Seniors $35; Individual $40; Consultants & For-Profits $125; Canadian $US45; Overseas $65. Editors: Ellen & Paul Connett, 82 Judson Street, Canton, NY 13617. Tel: 315-379-9200. Fax: 315-379-0448.