New Details Emerge About Community Recycling Violations

Cal OSHA Says Facility Violated State Order 5 Times This Month Alone

There are more details about the newest violations at Community Recycling, violations that may have been what ultimately pushed county supervisors to close it down.

Tuesday, Cal OSHA revealed Community Recycling blatantly and repeatedly violated the state's order to stay out of the drainage system where two workers died last month.

Cal OSHA said Community Recycling hired a local company to clean the system and one worker actually went inside it. According to a local contractor, Community Recycling had no plans to stop those violations.

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  • During a marathon county supervisors' meeting last night, Community Recycling had its conditional use permit revoked, shutting the facility down. Supervisors also handed out $2.3 million in fines.

    "This is the action the board needed to take against this company that been a chronic lawbreaker here in Kern County," said Laura Baker, staff attorney for the Center for Race, Poverty and the Environment.

    At the heart of the argument to shut down the composting facility were the numerous times county officials said Community Recycling violated its conditional use permit.

    "We based the fines on the continuing violations of the company and that they were violating county violations and making a profit on those violations," said Chuck Lackey, director of the county’s Engineering, Surveying & Permit Services Department.

    Besides all the violations the county said happened before the deaths of two workers last month, the county found new violations after the incident. Then, Cal OSHA said they discovered Community Recycling wasn't even obeying an order to keep workers out of the drainage system where the men died.

    "They were violating Cal OSHA's restriction to go back into these manholes. They hired another company to go back again in violation of regulations," Lackey said.

    Cal OSHA said five times in the past week and a half, Community Recycling allowed a worker from Roto-Rooter to enter the drain system to clean it.

    23ABC called Roto-Rooter to find out more. A person who answered the phone said Community Recycling paid Roto-Rooter more than $9,000 for its services this month alone. Even after the allegations by Cal OSHA, Roto-Rooter said Community Recycling has another appointment for more service next week.

    "The next step is actually closing the facility, cleaning up the area and getting people into healthy and safe jobs," Baker said.

    23ABC contacted the attorney for Community Recycling Wednesday for comment but so far it hasn't heard back.

    Cal OSHA said it may refer criminal charges against Community Recycling to the district attorney. 23ABC checked with the D.A.'s office Wednesday and it said so far it hasn't received anything from Cal OSHA.

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