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.