West Covina residents worried about 4th of July fireworks near former landfill

The city of West Covina hasn't had a 4th of July fireworks celebration since 2018. 

The fireworks display returned this year, and while some were excited, others expressed concern, saying the event at the West Covina Sportsplex is too dangerous.

As many as 5,000 people were expected at the Sportsplex, which sits next to a former landfill. The BKK Corporation Landfill site extends to nearby homes, where residents said dry brush is an issue, especially with the highly flammable methane emissions coming out of the facility. 

On Feb. 27th, the landfill exceeded the state’s limits on gas emissions, according to a West Covina report filed by Cal Recycle Inspector Steven Samaniego. A notice of violations was filed and reported that one gas probe emitted 39% methane, another one emitted, 11%. The state’s maximum limit is 5%.

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City officials explained that the Sportplex has an extensive system of gas safety sensors, and they have set up a unified command system to monitor emissions. Fire department officials were on site Tuesday, keeping an eye on the weather, and would stop the fireworks if needed. "We hear the concerns, and have addressed them" explained Assistant City Manager Roxanne Lerma.

Cal Fire has designated the Sportsplex area as being located in a "very high Fire Hazard Severity Zone." The city said it has an evacuation plan, and is having most attendees get in and out of the complex using one road, using shuttles to reduce the amount of vehicle traffic. Lerma pointed out that the city had fireworks at the site, back in 2018 without an issue.

The event is free to the public. The fireworks show is scheduled for 9 p.m. More info on the city’s Centennial 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular is on the city website.

More about the methane emissions can be found on the Livable West Covina website.