Fines, New Permit On Tap For Community Recycling

County Staff Says Supervisors Could Shut Facility Down

A new county report recommends a $500,000 fine for Community Recycling. That’s the composting facility near Arvin where two workers died last month.

The report lists all of the past violations of Community Recycling and a number of new ones found since the fatal accident.

Although the report says county supervisors have more than enough to shut the facility down, they don’t recommend that.

The report was prepared by county staff in preparation for Tuesday’s hearing on Community Recycling's conditional use permit. The report says in addition to all of the old violations Community Recycling has racked up, there are a bunch of new ones.

"I am very concerned about the staff report that was public yesterday," County Supervisor Karen Goh said.

The report says Community Recycling admits it has been illegally accepting plastics for processing. County officials say they also used semitrailers to hide the illegal operation.

Community Recycling claims they were just trying to keep competitors from seeing their trade secrets.

The report says the facility has also been illegally crushing concrete.

All of this means county supervisors have more than enough reasons to revoke Community Recycling's permit and shut it down.

"With the options that we have with revocations, suspension or modification, it’s so important that we consider all of the impacts on the people of the community," Goh said.

The local environmental engineering firm that has been working for Community Recycling says shutting the facility down will only make things worse.

"You would be depriving 130 people -- who are honest hard working people in the Lamont, Arvin area -- of their jobs," said Mary Jane Wilson, president of WZI, Inc.

Also the facility takes in sewage water from Lamont and uses it on the compost piles. If the facility closes it would trigger a crisis for the Lamont sewage system and the utility may have to double or triple rates to deal with the excess sewage.

"Stopping that particular business in that particular location has grave unintended consequences," Wilson said.

County staff is recommending that supervisors not revoke the permit. Instead they say a new one should be issued with more conditions designed to force the facility to operate safely and legally.

"The staff has recommended a large number of new conditions on the conditional use permit, and that the conditional use permit will have a sunset date of three years," Wilson said.

County supervisors will have a public meeting on Tuesday to hear from the community, the facility and county staff. Then they will decide if they will yank Community Recycling's permit.

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