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Residents React To Reported Toxic Dump

Some residents in the Central Valley town of Kettleman City, are concerned about a toxic dump, pollution and a cluster of birth defects. A state investigation recently exonerated pollution from the dump as the cause of the birth defects, but residents say that report is flawed.

There is a public hearing about that report scheduled for tonight in Kettleman City.

Maricela Mares-Alatorre, a 32-year resident of Kettleman City, said her niece was born with birth defects. She said the state’s investigation favors Waste Management, the company operating the dump facility. Mares-Alatorre said the report fails to offer a reason for the birth defects.

“Because one thing that the report said was we do have elevated level of birth defects in town,” Mares-Alatorre said. “But it didn’t find anything in common with the birth defects.”

Mares-Alatorre said the one thing the women have in common is -- in her words -- they live in the same polluted environment. Eleven babies were born with birth defects in the small town over a two and a half year period.

Waste Management has vigorously denied the dump is causing the birth defects. A spokesman said his company has worked with state and federal regulators to monitor for pollution, and that the facility may be the most regulated in the entire U.S.

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