Kettleman Hills Waste Facility–Public Hearings!



–July 3rd, 2013

On Tuesday, July 2nd 2013, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced the approval of a draft permit requested by Chemical Waste Management Inc. to expand and redesign the Kettleman Hills Facility.  This marks a dark day for activists and residents of Kettleman City and the San Joaquin Valley that have spent years fighting the expansion of this polluter in Kings County.

The Kettleman Hills facility currently operates on 53 acres of land and has the capacity to store 10,700,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste.  Under this modified permit the facility will expand to 67 acres with capacity for 15,700,000 cubic yards of hazardous waste.  The expansion also allows Chemical Waste Management Inc, to expand upwards from the current 965 feet to 1018 ft.

The draft decision does not considerably change the type of hazardous waste that is stored at the facility—which is currently limited to operations that involve primarily hazardous solid, semi-solid, and liquid waste.  The facility is not authorized to manage radioactive material, compressed gases, explosives, biological agents or Class 1 waste.

This draft decision also adds a series of permit conditions that most notably include, an ordinance of compliance with mitigation measures identified in the Subsequent Environmental Impact Report (SEIR), longer ambient air sampling periods, an additional air monitoring station in the direction of Kettleman City, stronger and more specific procedures for reporting spills, leaks and releases—a clause that seeks to address the traditional documented inadequacy of the facility to report and notify.  An inadequacy that in March 2013 cost Waste Management Inc $311,194 from a violation fine that DTSC implemented.

Despite the previous fines and documented environmental concerns from the plant, DTSC moved forward with the permit yesterday arguing that “none of CWM’s violations, including a $311,000 fine in March of 2013 for failing to report 72 small spills, has resulted in a threat to public health or the environment.”  Of course this statement is hugely contended even from the new Cal EPA/OEHHA tool CalEnviroScreen 1.0 which places Kettleman City in the top 10 percentile of zip codes with environmental burden as compared to all other zip codes in the state.  Not only that, but the statement is contended by the high rates of asthma, low birth weight, birth defects, and childhood cancer that plague the people of Kettleman City.

On the ground activists from Greenaction and El Pueblo argue that DTSC has failed to document the volume, number, or clean-up efforts of violations that this facility has created.  At the Kern Environmental Enforcement Network (KEEN) meeting on Tuesday in Bakersfield, activists from the Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment (CRPE) and Greenaction voiced their disbelief and discontent claiming that this draft permit “is a real slap to the people of Kettleman City.”  The activists used the KEEN platform because a similar reporting network currently does not exist in Kings County.  In response, members of DTSC who are part of the KEEN task force invited other members to participate in the public comment period that extends through September 4, 2013.  You can submit comments:

In writing—

Submit Comments to:
Wayne Lorentzen
8800 Cal Center Drive
Sacramento, CA 95826
(916) 255-3883 or

*Para  Presentar Comentarios en Español:
Jesus Cruz
8800 Cal Center Drive
Sacramento, CA 95826
(916) 255-3315 o

In-Person—Visit one of the following three locations:

Open House
July 31, 2013
Kettleman City Elementary Cafeteria
701 General Petroleum Ave.
Kettleman City, CA 93239

Drop-In with DTSC Staff
August 1, 2013
10:00am – 2:00pm
Kettleman City Community Center
75 Fifth St.
Kettleman City, CA 93239

Public Hearing
August 27, 2013
Kettleman City Elementary Cafeteria
701 General Petroleum Ave.
Kettleman City, CA 93239

Central California Environmental Justice Network will stand with the residents of Kettleman City, Greenaction, Center on Race, Poverty, and the Environment, El Pueblo and others to fight the implementation of this permit.  We understand that this landfill is a pollutant and a hazard to everyone in the valley and more importantly to the over-burdened residents of Kettleman City.  If we continue to allow state departments to further their disregard for the overwhelming evidence of violations and hazards that plague our communities, we are failing our legacy.  We invite you to join us in this push to stop this expansion!  Please submit comments before September 4th, and/or attend one of the meetings!