State, Kettleman City advocates settle dispute over toxic waste landfill

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control and the California Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with two environmental groups that ends a civil rights complaint over an expansion permit for Chemical Waste Management’s Kettleman Hills hazardous waste landfill.

Both sides said the agreement is historic.

Last year, Greenaction for Health and Environmental Justice and El Pueblo/People for Clean Air & Water of Kettleman City filed a federal administrative civil rights complaint saying that low-income, Latino residents in Kettleman City were discriminated against in the permitting process.

It is one of the first examples of a voluntary resolution by state agencies and community groups of this kind of complaint, a news release said.

“They have to pay attention to civil rights,” said Bradley Angel, executive director of Greenaction. “It is court enforceable.”

The state said it will take environmental justice factors into account when reviewing Chemical Waste Management’s pending application to renew its operating permit and in reviewing any expansion application submitted within three years.

The agreement also contains provisions to improve public health and environmental quality for residents in Kettleman City.

The Department of Toxic Substances Control said it would help Greenaction and El Pueblo in its efforts to do a community-based public health assessment, improve environmental monitoring, and establish an asthma intervention program for residents.

Lewis Griswold: 559-441-6104, @fb_LewGriswold