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Army Corps dumps landfill application
Another sign that Gregory Canyon Ltd. is in financial trouble
By J. Harry Jones, April 28, 2014

PALA — Another blow to the proposed Gregory Canyon landfill was delivered Monday by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which announced it will cease work on a crucial permit for the project because the developers haven’t provided information needed to keep the process moving.

The withdrawal of the Clean Water Act Section 404 permit application is a significant hurdle in the 20-year effort to get the landfill built. Most of the approvals needed for the project are predicated on the Corps permit; the other applications can’t move forward with it.

The company behind the landfill, Gregory Canyon Ltd., has suffered a series of financial and procedural setbacks over the last several months.

Gregory Canyon spokeswoman Nancy Chase said Monday the company is “very close” to securing new financing and when it does it will reinstate the application with the Corps.

“They couldn’t keep it open after a certain period of time and we haven’t had the financing to continue the work,” Chase said. “But the good news is we can reinstate with no loss of time and no dollar penalties. We won’t go backward.”

She predicted new financing will be obtained within the next 60 days.
photoA recent court decision may delay the opening of the Gregory Canyon landfill.

The proposed dump has been bitterly opposed by environmental groups and neighboring property owners, including the Pala Band of Mission Indians.

The Corps has been working on Gregory Canyon’s permit application for more than four years and has authority over the project because of the site’s proximity to the San Luis Rey River. The agency issued a draft environmental report on dump in 2012.

Since then, the developer “has not provided the necessary additional resources and information essential for the Corps to complete its evaluation and make an informed permit decision,” the agency said in a news release Monday.

Corps spokesman Greg Fuderer said dropping the application means the Corps won’t make a decision on the permit. He said it has been several months since any work has been done on the application because requested information was not forthcoming.

“The Corps is not making a decision at this time as we do not have the information we need to conclude the analysis,” said David Castanon, chief of the district’s Regulatory Division in the news release.

Fuderer said should Gregory Canyon Ltd., chose to continue the permit evaluation process, it may resubmit an application package, including updated technical information for the Corps to consider.

“If we still view the reports that were done previously as being accurate and applicable at the time someone may decided to resurrect this, then we would accept them. But if a significant amount of time has elapsed … then those report studies would have to be redone.”

Fuderer said it is not unusual for the Corps to withdraw applications when they don’t get needed information.

“This one’s just a little more public, a little more in the spotlight then most of them are,” he said. “But it’s not a unique situation to withdraw an application.”

Representatives with Gregory Canyon Ltd. have said its investors have poured more than $62 million into the project since it was first proposed more than two decades ago.

Last month bankruptcy proceedings were dismissed because the company failed to retain an attorney or file any necessary paperwork in court.

At the time, Chase characterized the dismissal of the bankruptcy as a “good thing” and said the company was working on obtaining new financing.

In January, the county’s Air Pollution Control District suspended work on a different dump-related application because the district was owed at least $320,000 for work that had already been done plus penalties.

The landfill would be built on land roughly three miles east of Interstate 15 and just south of state Route 76 in a canyon just west of the Pala Indian Reservation. Environmental groups, the Pala tribe, and several municipalities who get some of their water from the San Luis Rey River have long opposed the project.

“It’s another indication this project is drawing its last breath,” said attorney Everett DeLano, an environmental lawyer who has fought the dump plans for many years.

“I think clearly it’s more evidence they can’t pay their bills and can’t find new investors. And that’s because the project doesn’t pencil out,” added Walter Rusinek, a lawyer who represents the Pala tribe. “I assume they owe the Corps money or the Corps’ contractors money.”


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