Mike Rogge

DTSC begins Hazardous Waste Landfill Mediation

By Mike Rogge

Capitol Update, Dec. 4, 2015 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

On March 19th, El Puebla Para el Aire y Agua Limpia, a Kettleman City-based environmental justice activist group, and San Francisco-based Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice, alleged that the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) had violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the California Environmental Protection Agency’s (CalEPA’s) implementing regulations by approving plans to expand the Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility, contending that the approval discriminated against Latinos in neighboring communities on the basis of national origin. They complained to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) that the public process discriminated against limited-English proficient Spanish speaking residents and subjected them to a hostile environment and that CalEPA and DTSC had refused to consider their information about discrimination  based on national origin.

The Kettleman Hills facility is operated by Waste Management and is one of only three hazardous waste facilities in the state. California has very limited capacity for storage of hazardous waste, currently shipping 80 percent of its hazardous waste out of state.

Waste Management states on its website that Kettleman Hills is also the most thoroughly analyzed hazardous waste facility in the country:

In 2010, in response to concerns about potential public health impacts in Kettleman City, CalEPA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) undertook an investigation unprecedented in scope to determine the possible sources of cancer, birth defects and other public health impacts in Kettleman City. The result: no linkage has been found between facility activities and any public health impacts in Kettleman City.

At the request of U.S. EPA officials, both sides have agreed to a federal mediator for the resolution and hearings are expected to begin mid-December.

The California Attorney General has not responded to similar complaints filed under state law.

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