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EPA Says Regulators Did Not Monitor Air At Toxic Dump

An email from the U.S. EPA said state regulators did not monitor air quality at a toxic dump in rural Kettleman City, during a period when there was a spike in the number of area babies born with birth defects.

And earlier this week, the U.S. EPA fined Waste Management 300,000 dollars for failing to properly manage PCBs at the Kettleman Plant. Meanwhile, state regulators, responding late Wednesday, disputed the EPA email, but couldn’t answer specific questions about PCB testing.

According to an email obtained from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators suspended independent air monitoring for PCBs and pesticides at the Kettleman Hills waste facility in April 2008.

The facility processes about 4,000 tons of PCBs per year. Those chemicals have been linked to serious health problems, including cancer and liver failure.

This suspension of air quality oversight occurred at the same time as a spike in the number of local babies born with birth defects between September of 2007 and March of 2010. Three babies died during that period. This week, the U.S. EPA fined the plant operators 300,000 dollars for failing to properly manage PCBs.

A draft state report recently cleared the plant of causing the birth defects -- that report relied on information provided by the toxic dump operators. The lack of oversight does not prove air pollution caused the birth defects.

Numerous state regulators, the U.S. EPA, and the company that runs the facility. Waste Management did not return calls for comment.

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