Kettleman City landfill hit with large penalties

August 25, 2011

Operators of a Kettleman City landfill face $1 million in collective penalties for improperly analyzing toxic waste while the nearby community of mostly low-income farmworkers is plagued by birth defects. [LATIMES]

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that Chemical Waste Management agreed to pay $400,000 in fines and spend $600,000 on laboratory upgrades needed to properly manage hazardous materials at the facility.

“Significant shortcomings at Chemical Waste Management’s lab compromised the company’s ability to accurately analyze the toxic waste to be disposed of in their landfill,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These were serious compliance issues and they have now been resolved. But that doesn’t mean we are going to go away.

“We will remain vigilant and continue checking to make sure that the facility operates in full compliance.”

The action came two years after activists petitioned state and federal health agencies to investigate whether the 29-year-old landfill owned by Houston-based Waste Management Inc. might be linked to severe birth defects including heart problems and cleft palates in Kettleman City. No such evidence was found by state investigators, the LA Times said.

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Most of the people of that community came here from a colony in Mexico that is ridden with Cleft Palates. Besides, it’s been there for 29 years, longer than the probable average age of the residents. Afraid? Don’t live near it. The valley is so dusty and polluted, doubt that it is a toxic waste dump causing it.

“No such evidence was found by state investigators, the LA Times said.” Any guesses as to why the state investigators haven’t “found” anything? First, I think the assumption that nothing has been “found” is erroneous, at best. More likely, nothing has been officially reported as being found. If this facility were to be investigated and reported with an unbiased agenda, the findings would require that this facility be shut down immediately, which would put the state in a real bind since there is no place else for all of the toxic waste to go, so the state has to keep a “blind eye” turned towards the infractions this facility. As for the “cause and effect” of the illnesses of the nearby residents, again, if this facility is shown to be the actual cause, the state would have no choice but to shut it down, and there is no replacement available, so it stays open. But you better bet that if this dump were close to some upscale neighborhood of rich people, it would have been shut down long ago.

Wow, a simple slap on the hand. I guess if they weren’t farm workers that their lives would be worth something.

They should be closed down, the owners/CEO should be in jail. What are they going to do for the children born with birth defects? This had been going on for quite awhile with the companies knowledge. Big corps get off easy again….bet the 400K is more than what these fat cats have paid in taxes over the past 10 years but it’s still just a drop in their fat bucket.

C’mon. Read the last sentence of the article.

But do you believe the last sentence of the article . . . Hmmm

Who do we believe?

I will give you that there isn’t any proof that this toxic cr@p caused the over 11 birth defects and several infant deaths over the last three years. It could easily be from many toxins in that area. Their water is terrible and is known to be toxic (wonder why). But the company has been in trouble before and they continue to make the same mistakes. Yes the CEO/owners should be in jail as well as fined much more than what they have. Once again they are getting off easy. There must be some repercussions from their actions and 1$ mill doesn’t cut it IMO. Even if they didn’t cause these health issues this fine is chicken fee. They should fine them plus make them fund a study to find out why they are having all these health issue..

In 1985 they were fined 4 mill$ due to unapproved modifications to their facility, improper disposal of PCBs and lack of ground water monitoring. In may of this year they were fined because on 4 different occasions for improper dumping of PCBs (just in 2010 alone). This reminds me of Greka Oil, how many times to they get their hand slapped. It doesn’t matter to them as the fines are relatively so very low that it’s worth taking their chances of getting caught. BTW from what I’ve read this company for the most part regulates it’s self. The only time the EPA gets involved is when there are complaints (I believe that I read that a few months ago). Once the EPA is done with this last issue then waste company is on their own again, ready for more damage to the environment.

If you owned a gas station and dumped a few gallons of oil by accident, most likely you’d be fined so heavily that you’d be put out of business. Who cares about these big guys though, we don’t want to mess with them but heaven forbid you or I throw away a gallon of paint of oil. I am sick of these fat cats getting off easy.

If they aren’t the cause of these birth defects then something needs to be done to find the source because they are way over the norm.

It seems suspicious that this facility is unique in accepting certain pollutants, yet no one is checking their lab equipment, their reports and monitoring local groundwater for chemicals known to be dumped. Blind eye indeed.