The state on Monday rejected activists’ appeals of the hazardous waste landfill expansion at Kettleman Hills. Expect a lawsuit soon.
The legal action would be the next stage of an activist fight dating back to 2008, though many of the same activists have been battling against the landfill since the 1990s. The West’s largest landfill, owned by Chemical Waste Management, Inc., has nearly run out of room for waste.
Following years of health investigation in nearby Kettleman City and protests, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) approved the expansion permit in May. The investigations did not reveal connections between health problems in Kettleman City and the hazardous waste landfill, four miles away, state officials said.
In June, an appeal was filed by El Pueblo Para el Aire y Agua Limpia (People for Clean Air and Water) of Kettleman City and Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice in San Francisco and Kettleman City. Ingrid Bostrom of the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment in Oakland also appealed.
The department’s appeals officer, Barbara Cook, denied both appeals, and activists quickly responded.
“Once again this is an example of DTSC failing to protect a community that is already overburdened with multiple sources of pollution,” said Maricela Mares Alatorre, long-time Kettleman City resident and member of El Pueblo. “If they would just follow their own laws, we wouldn’t be forced to take measures to get them to comply.”
Bradley Angel of Greenaction on Tuesday said further challenges will include a lawsuit and administrative civil rights complaints under both state and federal law.