Politics

Kettleman City landfill renews toxic waste debate

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Worries of toxic pollution sparked strong arguments in the South Valley Wednesday night.

The facility has treated waste for decades. It wants to expand to treat more toxic materials brought in from all over the state. Part of that new plan includes large financial donations to the communities in Kings County. But many say this operation is extremely dangerous.

The toxic waste treatment facility is at capacity, according to the state's Department of Toxic Substances Control.

The DTSC is in the final stages of approving an expansion years in the making. Kings County Supervisor Richard Valle says the waste management growth will help improve infrastructure and water quality.

That includes $552,000 to pay off the debt of the existing water system so we can build a new water treatment plant facility and deliver clean drinking water to the people of Kettleman City," Valle said.

The opposition to the plan is extremely vocal. Maricela Mares-Alatorre says "I think it's terrible to hold a community hostage that you have to support this expansion in exchange for cleaner water. Everyone has the right to clean water anyway."

The waste treatment facility has been cited more than 70 times for violations since the early 1980s. Some worry their health is at risk because of its existence.

But not everyone opposes the landfill. Many spoke of how safe they think it is.

Waste Management says its past violations pose no significant risk to the public. "Actually this facility is for the safety of the environment and the protection of human health," said Waste Management spokesperson Lily Quiroa. "As for the water it's important also to note that there's no ground water connection between this facility and the ground water that feeds this town."

The public has until October 11th to comment on the expansion here.

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kettleman city, kings county, politics, rick montanez
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