The Kettleman Hills Facility:
There's More Than You Know
Safe and Essential for California's Environmental Stewardship
It is essential for California to safely dispose of its own hazardous waste, and Kettleman Hills is essential to achieving that goal. A premier world-class facility, Kettleman Hills is also the most thoroughly analyzed hazardous waste facility in the country. In 2010, in response to concerns about potential public health impacts in Kettleman City, CalEPA and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) undertook an investigation unprecedented in scope to determine the possible sources of cancer, birth defects and other public health impacts in Kettleman City. The result: no linkage has been found between facility activities and any public health impacts in Kettleman City.
But there’s a lot more to the story. The facts about Kettleman Hills might surprise you.
Kettleman Hills is Safe
Cancer and Birth Defects: Based on exhaustive analysis, including more than 25 years of data from the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program and data from the California Cancer Registry since 1988, CDPH found that:
- There is no link between birth defects in Kettleman City and any activities at the Kettleman Hills Facility and no patterns among birth defect cases in Kettleman City to suggest a common cause.
- The census tract that includes Kettleman City experienced the same types of cancers as found elsewhere and fewer cancers than were expected for the area. No occurrence of the most common form of childhood cancer was found in Kettleman City.
Air Quality: Extensive studies and long-term air monitoring at the Kettleman Hills Facility and in Kettleman City show that potential emissions from the facility do not pose health risks in residential areas in and around Kettleman City. A health risk assessment prepared for the investigating agencies found that risks in and around Kettleman City associated with Kettleman Hills emissions are at least 700 times lower than the background risk levels.
Drinking Water: The Kettleman Hills facility poses no risk to Kettleman City’s two drinking water wells.
- CalEPA has determined that it is impossible for wastewater from Kettleman Hills to affect Kettleman City’s wells, because geological formations beneath the facility divert groundwater flow to the west, away from the city's wells.
- Long-term, extensive data from approximately 50 groundwater monitoring wells on and around the facility over the last 25 years confirm that Kettleman Hills poses no threat to Kettleman City’s drinking water.
Kettleman Hills Benefits the Community
Clean Drinking Water: As a long-time member of the community, Waste Management is committed to help bring clean drinking water to Kettleman City, which has naturally occurring poor water quality.
- Waste Management has pledged to pay an existing $552,000 city water service debt, which enabled the city to receive an $8 million grant from the state to build a permanent water treatment plant to deliver clean drinking water.
- Waste Management has contributed $50,000 to the city, matching a grant from the CDPH, to deliver interim bottled water to residents until the plant is built.
- Operating under the new permit, hazardous waste gate fees paid to the county will provide up to $3 million over the next 20 years to operate the water treatment plant and keep water rates affordable.
Reduced Diesel Emissions: Even though only approximately 100 of the 9,200 trucks traveling through Kettleman City each day are destined for the facility, Waste Management is dedicated to reducing these hazardous waste trucks’ diesel emissions.
- Under its new permit, Kettleman Hills will prohibit entry to any truck that does not meet the ARB’s 2007 engine emission standard – a first-of-its-kind program that will reduce diesel emissions up to eight years earlier than required under the statewide compliance schedule for diesel emission reductions.
Local Jobs and More: The Kettleman Hills Facility is a major contributor to the Kettleman City and Kings County economy and an active civic partner for the betterment of Kettleman City.
- When operating at normal capacity, Kettleman Hills creates 90 full-time jobs that provide good wages and health and retirement benefits.
- Kettleman Hills generates about $17.5 million in economic activity for local businesses, and pays $1-$2 million/year to the county general fund in hazardous waste fees.
- Kettleman Hills provides ongoing support to Kettleman City Elementary School and contributed more than $250,000 to Kings County for a community health survey and a pregnancy planning program in Kettleman City and other at-risk communities.
Kettleman Hills Is Essential to California -- Today and in the Future
- California has a longstanding policy to manage and dispose of California-generated hazardous waste without shipping it out of state. But with its current very limited capacity, California sends up to 80% of its hazardous waste out of state.
- The Brown Administration has announced a bold initiative, which Waste Management supports, to reduce the 1.7 million tons of hazardous waste generated annually in California by 50% by 2025. Even if California meets this ambitious goal, the capacity of the Kettleman Hills Facility will be essential to safely manage the remaining hazardous waste generated in California.