pollution

Health
6:11 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

State Approves Expansion of Kettleman Hills Toxic Waste Facility

Kettleman City is home to one of the largest toxic waste landfills in California.
Credit California Department of Public Health

 

After 6 years, the state of California has approved the expansion of a toxic waste landfill near Kettleman City. The decision will allow the landfill to expand by 50%, or 5 million cubic yards, which owners at Waste Management Incorporated estimate will last about 8 years.

Jim Marxen is a spokesperson for the California Department of Toxic Substances Control.

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Valley Edition
11:25 am
Tue April 29, 2014

Valley Edition: March 29 - Pollution In Fresno; Drought; Armenia; Historic Preservation Week

Valley Edition April 29, 2014
Credit Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

This week on Valley Edition we talk about a new ranking of environmental health in California that shows many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state, drought on the farm, the Armenian Genocide and Kessab Armenians, plus a look at Fresno's Historic Preservation Week

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Environment
9:22 am
Tue April 29, 2014

New Pollution Mapping Tool Aims To Aid Environmental Justice Fight In Central Valley

Credit The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

Last week, the state of California released a new interactive online map that lets you look at how environmentally burdened your neighborhood is compared to the rest of the state. The tool, called CalEnviroScreen 2.0 combines both data on pollution sources and the demographics of a community, including poverty, unemployment and linguistic isolation to compute a score that reflects a community’s overall environmental burden.

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Environment
5:24 pm
Tue April 22, 2014

New Analysis Of Pollution Burdens Ranks Fresno, Valley Counties Worst In State

Central Valley counties ranked among the worst in the CalEnviroScreen 2.0 analysis
Credit The Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment

A new ranking of environmental health in California shows that many Fresno County neighborhoods rank among the worst in the state when it comes to pollution.

The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment's CalEnviroScreen 2.0 database examines how the state's approximately 8,000 census tracts rank on a variety of indicators in two major areas: pollution exposure and socioeconomic factors that increase vulnerability to pollution. The database combines the two to give each tract a score.

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Drought
12:31 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

For Orange Cove, Drought Puts Strain On City's Water Supply

The Friant Kern Canal not only carries Millerton Lake water to valley farms, but also to communities like Orange Cove
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

Despite the rains of the past weekend, California’s drought is still a huge problem for communities up and down the state. While many towns in the Valley are bracing for the economic impact of the drought, and the resulting loss of farm jobs, the community of Orange Cove also has to contend with concerns about its water supply.

Mayor Gabriel Jimenez says that while the city has five municipal wells to draw water from the aquifer, they can't be used due to nitrate pollution.

"Now our wells are shutdown, we're 100 percent dependent of surface water," says Jimenez. 

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Health
5:44 pm
Tue January 7, 2014

New Study Links PM 2.5 Pollution, Immune System Damage

Researchers at the California National Primate Research Center & UC Davis examined the health effects of exposure to PM2.5 on primates, in a study funded by the California Air Resources Board
Credit K. West / California National Primate Research Center

A new study suggests that exposure to wildfire smoke can result in reduced immune system function. The study, funded by the California Air Resources board, looked at primates which were exposed to unusually high levels of fine particulate matter or PM2.5 for 10 days in 2008, during a number of wildfires.

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Environment
6:00 am
Mon November 4, 2013

California's Toxic Waste Control Department Tries to Clean Itself Up

Credit Photo used under Creative Commons from Andy Patterson / Modern Relics / http://www.flickr.com/photos/modernrelics/4461010654/

Californians produce two million tons of hazardous waste every year. And the department that manages that waste has faced criticism for the way it operates. Katie Orr reports from Sacramento on the department’s efforts to clean up its act.

When a business is dealing with toxic waste in what’s considered a potentially risky way it must get a permit from California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control. There are currently 118 permitted facilities in the state that treat, store or dispose of toxic waste.

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Health
6:08 pm
Fri August 23, 2013

California Proposes Lower Threshold for Carcinogenic Substance in Drinking Water

Credit Valley Public Radio

California health officials propose to lower the limits of a heavy-metal often found in drinking water. Health Care Reporter Pauline Bartolone has more from Sacramento.

The California Department of Public Health proposes a regulation that would reduce the allowable level of ‘chromium-6’ in water to five times less than it is now. 

Chromium-six is carcinogenic. The substance is both naturally occurring, and leaks into the water supply from industrial hazardous waste areas.

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Environment
12:03 pm
Fri August 16, 2013

Valley Air District to Issue Air Alert Monday

file photo
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has announced that it intends to issue an "Air Alert" early next week. The alert will begin Monday August 19th and continue through Wednesday August 21st. 

This district is urging residents to take steps that can reduce the amount of ozone pollution, and prevent a potential violation of the 1-hour ozone standard. In addition to health risks posed by ozone pollution, violating the standard could also result in a $29 million federal penalty.

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Environment
2:24 pm
Tue August 13, 2013

Bill to Increase Air Pollution Fines Moves Forward

file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

A bill that would increase fines for big air polluters in California is now headed to the Assembly floor. As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, it was drafted in response to the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

The Chevron oil refinery fire forced 15,000 people to seek medical help. Under current law such a violation would result in a $10,000 fine. Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says the legislation she’s authored would increase the fine to $100,000.

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Environment
7:46 pm
Wed August 7, 2013

Fight Over Alleged Radioactive Waste Involves Kern County Landfills

Consumer Watchdog and other environmental groups have filed suit against Boeing and the California Department of Toxic Substance Control over what they claim is the illegal disposal of low-level radioactive waste from a retired Boeing facility in Ventura County.

The groups allege that the demolition of potentially contaminated buildings at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory near Simi Valley is a threat to public health, and a violation of the state’s environmental laws.

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Environment
6:47 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

EPA and Lawmakers Call Lack of Clean Drinking Water Unacceptable

Jeanette Pantoja, California Rural Legal Assistance, Kenia Acevedo, California Rural Legal Assistance and Don Rosa, with the Pajaro Sunny Mesa Community Services District
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

The Environmental Protection Agency says California is violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA says the state’s Department of Public Health has failed to spend nearly a $500 million in federal money to provide safe drinking water. It’s estimated the state will have to spend $40 billion over the next two decades to fix the problem.  As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, some lawmakers are outraged by what they see as a bureaucratic nightmare within the Department.

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Environment
6:46 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Hundreds of Communities Rely on Contaminated Water

Springfield's well is tainted with nitrate pollution
Amy Quinton Capital Public Radio

More than 600 communities in California rely on contaminated groundwater. Nowhere is the problem more acute than in the Tulare Lake Basin and the Salinas Valley.  It’s estimated that a quarter of a million people there rely on groundwater contaminated with nitrates, including some of the poorest people in the state. In the first of two stories, Amy Quinton reports on how one community struggles to deal with the problem. 

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Environment
1:03 pm
Tue March 19, 2013

Legislation Would Increase Fines For Big Air Polluters

photo illustration - file photo
Credit Valley Public Radio

More than 15,000 people sought medical help from air pollution after the Chevron oil refinery fire in Richmond last year.

As Amy Quinton reports from Sacramento, several lawmakers say polluters should pay more for air quality violations.

Under current law, the maximum penalty for air quality violations is only $25,000 even when negligence can be demonstrated.

Democratic Senator Loni Hancock says in cases like the Chevron oil refinery fire, it should be more. She represents the Bay area where she says the average fine for a violation is just $500.

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Environment
6:54 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Report: Cleanup Nitrate Pollution With Fee on Fertilizer Sales

A map showing the initial study areas for a recent UC Davis study of nitrate pollution.
Credit CA Water Resources Control Board

The State Water Resources Control Board is recommending that California fund efforts to mitigate nitrate pollution through a statewide fee on fertilizer.

In a report to the Legislature, the board said that groundwater nitrate pollution in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley is likely to get worse in the future, and a dedicated funding stream is needed to address the problem.

Agricultural fertilizer and confined animal facilities are considered some of the top sources of nitrate pollution.

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Environment
5:32 pm
Thu February 7, 2013

Report: More than Half of Californians Get Contaminated Drinking Water

file photo
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

More than half of California's population relies on a contaminated drinking water supply – though most communities blend or treat their water to make it safe.  Ben Adler has more from Sacramento on that finding in a new state report out this week.

The report by the State Water Resources Control Board was ordered by the state Legislature.  It says from 2002 to 2010, 680 out of 3,000 community water systems in the state relied on one or more contaminated groundwater wells.  Those contaminated wells served 21 million people.

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Environment
11:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

Valley Residents, Health Advocates Call For Better Protection From Particle Pollution

The Fresno skyline as seen through a thick cloud of pollution (file photo)
Credit Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The San Joaquin Valley’s polluted air is a daily concern for Mario Talavera.

“When I go to the pharmacy, they ask why I need medicine," said Talavera, of Fresno. "For Mario, Angelica, Tomas, Jose. And for me too, Mario. I have asthma. The only person who doesn’t have asthma is my wife.”

It’s a constant stress for Fresno resident Teresa Vidales, too. Her husband, a construction worker and the family breadwinner, has asthma. One of her four kids does, too.

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Environment
1:07 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

EPA: Valley Facilities Top Statewide List of Toxic Chemical Releases

Kettleman City, in rural Kings County is home to one of the state's leading sources of toxic chemical releases. (file photo)
Credit California Department of Public Health

Two hazardous waste facilities in the San Joaquin Valley led the state in toxic chemical releases in 2011, according to a report released today by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Clean Harbors landfill in Buttonwillow in western Kern County ranked number one in the state in toxic releases, with nearly 10 million pounds in 2011. In Kings County, Chemical Waste Management’s Kettleman City disposal facility released nearly four million pounds in 2011, which ranked third in the state.

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Health
3:57 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Study Links Flame Retardants to Developmental Delays in Children

According to study authors, flame retardant chemicals can leach out from upholstered furniture, particularly if the foam is exposed through rips.
Credit Courtesy UC Berkeley Media Relations

A new UC Berkeley study adds to research that suggests flame retardants common in California homes are linked to neurodevelopmental delays in kids.

The study followed nearly 300 women from pregnancy to when their children were 7 years old. Researchers tested mother's levels and then the children's levels for the flame retardant compound polybrominated diphenyl ethers, known as PBDE. They wanted to assess in utero effect as well as childhood exposure, says lead researcher and UC Berkeley epidemiologist Brenda Eskenazi.

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Environment
9:43 am
Tue October 16, 2012

Arvin Residents Take On Air Pollution With 'Bucket Brigade'

The small community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation.
Joe Moore Valley Public Radio

The small Kern County community of Arvin has some of the worst air in the nation. Surrounded on two sides by mountains at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley, the city's 16,000 residents breathe air polluted by cars, trucks and industrial operations from nearby, and from across the valley. But now some members of the community are taking matters into their own hands, with a "bucket brigade" that aims to clean up the air. But their efforts are not without controversy. 

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