Health

Waste Management’s Kettleman Hills Facility has been an integral part of the Kings County community for 30 years. By providing secure and proper handling of local residential and business hazardous waste, WM helps protect the health and safety of the local community.

The Kettleman Hills Facility is one of the most highly regulated sites in California. In addition to regular onsite and external monitoring, several studies have been conducted examining the potential health risk of WM’s operations on the local community. These reports have all concluded that the facility does not pose a health risk to local residents.

State of California Study

  • The state of California recently concluded an investigation of birth defects in Kettleman City and found no connection to the Kettleman Hills Facility. The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) and the California Department of Public Health conducted what Cal/EPA Secretary Linda Adams described as “one of the most thorough environmental health investigations ever conducted in California.”  The results, which were released in December 2010, revealed that investigators could not find exposures to hazardous chemicals from the Kettleman Hills Facility that could explain the birth defects.
  • The study read: “Air tests found no link between the Kettleman Hills Hazardous Waste Facility and environmental contamination in the town. The ground beneath the facility diverts water away from the town, so wastewater from the facility cannot affect the wells that supply the town’s drinking water

PCB Congener Study

  1. A recent study confirmed storage of PCB’s at the Kettleman Hills facility  the local community and the environment. In the most extensive study of its kind ever conducted at an active and permitted facility, U.S. EPA and Waste Management collected and analyzed soil, air and vegetation samples to determine whether wind-blown PCB particles could pose a health concern. In its findings, U.S. EPA concluded:
    • Concentrations of PCB congeners measured in soil samples collected at the perimeter of the Chemical Waste Management (CWM) Facility are 2,000 times below EPA’s risk-based residential clean-up levels, based on their toxicity.
    • Risk of health impacts from PCB congener concentrations measured in soils, vegetation, and air near the perimeter of the CWM Facility are in the same range as risk of health impacts in other rural areas without known PCB activities or sources.
    • Concentrations of PCB congeners measured in soils, vegetation, and air at the perimeter as well as those collected at the B-18 landfill drainage swale of the CWM Facility do not adversely affect ecological species.
    • There is no evidence suggesting that PCB congeners from operations at the CWM Facility are migrating off-site at concentrations that would adversely affect the health of local community residents or the environment.

DSEIR Health Assessment

  • As part of the state-mandated environmental review process for WM’s proposed
    project, a two-year health risk analysis was completed in 2008 using the EPA/
    CARB approved HARP model.
  • The study considered prior soil, surface and air samples, including
    samples taken both on-site and off-site.
  • The study results were included in the Draft Subsequent Environmental
    Impact (DSEIR) report for the project and shared with the community and
    responsible agencies for public comment.
  • The assessed risks in Kettleman City were at least 30 times lower than the
    California EPA and the local Air District targets.
  • The results also indicated that emissions from the proposed project,
    in conjunction with other projects at the facility and the existing
    environment, do not — and will not — pose a public health concern in
    Kettleman City or Avenal.
  • The report was conducted by Shaw Environmental, Inc. and peer reviewed
    by CPF Associates, Inc. and Golder Associates, Inc., two independent,
    scientific and health based consulting firms with expertise in performing
    health evaluations.

Community Health Assessment

  • A community health assessment report also was conducted by Human
    Capital Management Services and presented to the Kings County Community
    Development Agency and Kings County Health Department.
  • The report found that socio-economic factors, along with education and
    lifestyle factors contribute to the health status of Kettleman City and Kings
    County residents.
  • The report concluded that there is no epidemiological evidence that
    residents’ poor health is related to environmental exposure from the
    Kettleman facility.
  • The report also highlights opportunities for improving the health of
    Kettleman City residents through coordination of health care services,
    education and skill development, and community resources.

Academic Studies

Numerous studies have been conducted by academic researchers around the world
to determine whether there is a higher health risk associated with living near
landfills, including hazardous waste facilities and Supefund sites. These studies
have largely concluded that it is not possible to draw conclusions about causality
of birth defects or other health effects.

Kettleman Hills Facility

Facts & Figures

  • Total site acreage: 1,600
  • Total operations acreage: 499
  • Permitted to handle both municipal solid waste and hazardous waste.
  • Regulated by nine local, state, and federal agencies.
  • Location: approximately 3.5 miles southwest of Kettleman City, 6.5 miles southeast of the City of Avenal and about 2.5 miles west of Interstate 5 along State Route 41.