Although they never got a chance to read prepared statements or give personal testimony at a public hearing, hundreds of protesters arguing against a planned waste transfer station in Pomona were far from displeased Sept. 28. The Ninth Street Pomona Valley Waste Transfer Station planned for construction in southeast Pomona was addressed by the Pomona Planning Commission at the meeting, attended by many from St. Madeline Church and OneLA, a community-based organization that has a presence at the Pomona parish.Commissioners asked questions of city staffers, consultants who prepared the Environment Impact Report (EIR) for the project, and representatives from the project’s proponent, developers from Valley Vista Services. Their queries took the meeting way past 11 p.m. before it was finally adjourned; another meeting has been scheduled for Oct. 12 to continue the hearing and public testimony.“It was very enlightening for the community to hear the commissioners really going through this proposal with a fine-toothed comb,” said Father Alex Alcan, pastor at St. Madeline Church which has many parishioners involved in the protests. “A lot of what we have been saying was reiterated and it’s good for everyone to hear the concerns and questions raised.”Father Alcan and about 400 members of OneLA attended the hearing to voice their concerns about the proposed facility which, they maintain, will bring added pollution, noise, health issues and other environmental hazards into the community. The 10-acre transfer station is blueprinted to be built near residential areas and within a mile of nearly a dozen schools. Protesters carried banners and gathered prior to the meeting and later marched into the packed hearing room. Since the beginning of this year, parishioners at St. Madeleine — along with other community groups including other churches, synagogues, teacher associations — have worked with the Pomona Valley Cluster of OneLA to oppose the proposed waste transfer station.Waste transfer stations are facilities where small trash collection trucks dump their loads to be sorted and then placed into larger trucks and taken to area landfills.In August, many St. Madeline’s parishioners walked the streets and knocked on doors near the proposed facility’s site to alert residents about the issues involved with such a large and potentially hazardous operation being slated for construction in their own neighborhood.“They want to build this facility in one of the poorest and already polluted areas of Pomona,” said Father Aclan about the social injustice issues that have been raised about the station. “This is not the place for this type of facility which will not only handle Pomona trash, but trash from Claremont, Chino Hills and Laverne. About 1,500 pounds of trash a day.”The Revised EIR suggests that if the facility is built, the community will experience extra pollution, susceptibility for respiratory illnesses for the young and old, and exposure to possible cancers. More than 610 truck trips per day are expected in and out of the area; that high volume of traffic adds not only more emissions but wear and tear on local roads and streets. The EIR also indicates that the certain circumstances about this waste transfer station are of an environmental justice concern, based on the EPA’s guidelines.Valley Vista Services asserted that their new facility would be built using the latest in green technology and its fleet of trucks would be powered with CNG. In addition, as many as 50 new jobs would be created with the facility. “Yes, but what kind of jobs would they be?” responded Father Aclan. “And there are no guarantees that our residents would get those jobs which may be minimal wage at best. Is the health of our neighborhood worth that?”Despite the fact that the public didn’t get a chance to speak Sept. 28, no one seemed frustrated or disappointed. St. Madeline parishioner and OneLA member Magdalena Uceda said that the questioning really helped light the issues. “We knew a lot of what they were questioning, but we wanted others to hear it,” she said, adding that the huge numbers of protesters present probably influenced the tone of the evening. “I think the commissioners realized that they needed to really do their job and examine what is being proposed.”Protestors said they are energized to attend the Oct. 12 meeting when the public will get a chance to have their say. This process, Father Aclan said, is a reminder that “people don’t have to just sit there and put up with bad situations. Organize and get your voices heard and you can make a difference.”{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2011/1007/stmadeleine/{/gallery}