Kettleman City, Calif. Could Have a Pesticide Problem — Here's Why

Kori Williams - Author

Dec. 19 2022, Published 4:08 p.m. ET

Smog in California
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Pollution is a huge problem for so many cities and people all over the world. Issues including unsafe drinking water and toxic fumes can cause all kinds of health issues in a given area. Unfortunately, this looks to be the case for Kettleman City in California.

Over the years, many citizens of the city have been born with various birth defects. This includes cleft palates, heart problems, asthma, and more. But is there a pesticide problem in Kettleman, City? What exactly is going on in the area, and what is being done to stop it?

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Here's what we know about the pesticide problem in Kettleman City, California.

Unfortunately, these issues in Kettleman City have been going on for more than a decade. Back in 2010, CNN reported on it, saying that during the previous three years, 10 babies were born in Kettleman City with some kind of birth defect.

Three infants died due to these issues. "It's such a small town and such a large problem. We want to give our children life, not death," Maria Saucedo, whose daughter Ashley died, in an interview with the publication.

A Landfill
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"When Ashley was born, the doctors told me that there was something wrong with her," Saucedo added. She was told by doctors that Ashley would only live for a couple of months. But she lived for almost 10 months before she died of a blood infection in 2009.

In 2013, the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) released an environmental justice review of the Kettleman Hills waste management facility in Kettleman City. It talks about the "long-standing issue of water quality and the lack of a safe drinking water supply for Kettleman City residents" which could have definitely contributed to the number of birth defects in the area.

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In fact, safe drinking water was a concern that the people in Kettleman City had, according to the DTSC report. Not only this, but citizens believed the waste management center also contributed to poor air quality and toxic chemical runoff in the area. Much of this could be due to the heavy amount of pesticides the waste centers use.

Water From Pipes
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What is being done to help Kettleman City?

The environmental review mentioned that in Oct. 2012, the State Water Resources Control Board allocated $2 million to help bring clean drinking water to lower-income communities, one of which being Kettleman City. In fact, the CNN article called Kettleman City ones of the poorest towns in California in 2010.

Unfortunately, not all efforts to help Kettleman City have been received well. The DTSC report states that in 2012, 664 surveys were given out to the citizens about "community interest and concerns regarding the waste management facility" but only six were returned.

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Water Treatment Plant
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In July 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an Environmental Justice Analysis for the (Toxic Substances Control Act) TSCA Permit for the Kettleman Hills waste management center. This permit would allow the facility to "store, treat and dispose of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)."

In addition, the EPA said that in Nov 2019, the Kettleman City Surface Water Treatment Plant started providing water to the people of the city and its elementary school. This water meets all current state standards.

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