SOURCE: Coalition for a Clean Kern County

April 25, 2016 20:33 ET

Coalition for a Clean Kern County: Recology Found in Violation of Kern County Zoning Ordinance at Controversial Composting Facility

Operator Found Storing Wood Waste Illegally While Seeking Expansion Permits -- Coalition for a Clean Kern County Renews Call for Facility Closure

LAMONT, CA--(Marketwired - April 25, 2016) -  Recology Inc, operator of the Blossom Valley Organics - South, California's largest composting facility, was found in violation of Kern County's Zoning Ordinance for storing outdoor wood waste without a 'land use approval.' According to Andrew Grundman, spokesperson for Coalition for a Clean Kern County, the latest violation is just further proof that the composting facility remains a public health and safety threat and should be closed. "This violation is significant in that it violates the public trust. Recology has been selling and exporting the stored wood waste to a landfill in Los Angeles County knowing that it did not have an approved conditional use permit. How many violations must occur at Blossom Valley Organics - South before we finally say enough is enough?" 

Kern County officials became aware of the illegal wood waste in February of this year, nearly a year after Recology assumed operations from Crown Disposal, and conducted a site visit in March. According to staff, the illegal wood waste, which occupies over 6 acres of land within the facility, was in existence when Recology took control over the facility. The violation was brought before the Kern County Planning and Community Development's Hearing Officer on April 7th, where the operator was found in violation but allowed to move forward with its expansion permit application if it meets several stipulations.

"We are disappointed with the Hearing Officer's decision because Recology was basically given a slap on the wrist for the violation," continued Andrew Grundman, spokesman and attorney representing the Coalition. "The Hearing Officer agreed with staff that Recology intended to include the wood waste in its expansion application that was filed in July 2016 and overlooked the fact that they did nothing about the massive pile of wood waste until the County forced them. It is the same sort of disregard for the law that was shown by the previous operator -- Crown Disposal. We will continue to remind the County that this composting facility has a long history of environmental, health and safety violations. We will continue to remind them that two brothers tragically died at Blossom Valley Organics - South and that the primarily Latino community surrounding the site has for years experienced environmental racism at the hands of large, corporate waste providers. This violation cannot be swept under the rug and rewarded with an expansion that will result in increased traffic, noise, odor and air quality impacts well into the future. The local community isn't even aware that a violation occurred. We will continue to call for this composting facility to be closed."

Recology's requesting land use entitlements that would require an Amendment to the Kern County General Plan, as well as a modification of Conditional Use Permit 27 to allow for: 1) installing an aeration system; 2) expanding the amount and source of food waste accepted; 3) accepting digestates and biosolids; 4) removing the feedstock tonnage limits and replacing it with an overall tonnage limit; 5) expanding the CUP boundary; 6) allowing sorting and grinding of an estimated 10% of feedstock; 7) allowing wood mulching and coloring; and, 8) increasing the limit of outgoing trucks to 150 trucks per day. The County of Kern is currently seeking Requests for Proposals (RFP) to conduct and Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Recology Blossom Valley Organics - South Project.

The Coalition for a Clean Kern County is a group of concerned residents, property owners, and merchants working together to improve the local environment for a better, cleaner, and healthier future. The Coalition's current focus is preventing the expansion of the Blossom Valley Organics - South facility and working towards its immediate closure. Grundman Law is a "boutique" law firm located in the heart of Old Sacramento. We provide legal service and practical guidance to a diverse array of clients ranging from public companies to non-profit organizations. 

Contact Information

    Andrew Grundman, ESQ.
    Coalition for a Clean Kern County  
    (916) 273-4811
    Email contact