California's Department of Toxic Substances Control announced today a draft decision to let Chemical Waste Management Inc. expand its Kettleman Hills hazardous waste landfill in Kings County. At the same time, DTSC unveiled an effort to reduce the amounts of hazardous waste that California generates each year and sends to landfills in California and other states.
"We must start the discussion on how we can end or significantly reduce our dependence on landfills and develop sustainable solutions that protect this generation and generations to come," said DTSC Director Debbie Raphael in a statement.
Chemical Waste Management applied to DTSC for a permit to expand its landfill five years ago, and has curtailed truck shipments to the site because of lack of capacity. All the time, exports of hazardous wastes to other states have increased.
Some Kettleman City residents blame the landfill -- the largest of its kind in the West -- for tainting their drinking water and causing birth defects, claims the company disputes. A study by two state agencies was unable to document a link, saying that researchers could "not find a specific cause or environmental exposure among the mothers that would explain the increase in the number of children born with birth defects in Kettleman City."
Bradley Angel of the group Greenaction told the Associated Press that the expansion permit was based on "bogus studies" and "hiding the number of birth defects and infant deaths."
Photo of the Kettleman Hills landfill by the Fresno Bee's John Walker.