After triple digit employment growth in the '70s and '80s, and double digits throughout most of the '90s, the environmental industry has slowed down. Employment at the largest environmental firms in L.A. County slowed to a crawl, with the 15 largest firms reporting a 1.3 percent increase over the year earlier.

Companies have been squeezed by the slowdown in the private sector and budget shortfalls in the public sector.

No. 1 Waste Management accounted for roughly half of the drop in employees, with 164 fewer environmental workers compared to last year. Foss Environmental Services Co., which dropped five spots to No. 13, has been hit by declining hazardous spill revenue.

No. 2 Parsons Corp. added 261 environmental employees.

Nicole Taylor


Waste Management inc.

With more employees involved in environmental services than its three closest competitors combined, Waste Management Inc. is again Los Angeles County's largest environmental firm.

Despite its girth, Waste Management was not immune to the slowdown in the economy. Its L.A. County employment decreased over the past 12 months by 164 workers, to 1,236, as part of a companywide reduction of 700 workers and 270 contract workers announced in February.

"There has been less business and fewer employees needed to service (demand)," said Dan Shoener, vice president of the Los Angeles area. Shoener said no more cuts "of significance" were projected in 2003. He expects business to remain fairly flat for the rest of the year.

The Houston-based company operates 13 sites throughout the county, including five landfills. One source of controversy involves the Bradley Landfill in Sun Valley, which is set to close in April 2007, at near capacity. But Waste Management was approved for a 10-foot increase in permitted height by the California Integrated Waste Management Board. And now, the company has asked for an additional expansion of 43 feet. The proposal is in the midst of an environmental study and is opposed by local residents and politicians.

The company averted a strike in December, reaching a 5-year contract with 500 Teamsters Union drivers after lengthy negotiations. Contract details were not disclosed.

Nicole Taylor

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