Ever heard of Arvin, California?  Maybe you’ve seen the exit off Highway 99 near LA or maybe you’ve read something about it having some of the worst air quality in the United States.

More recently, Arvin has made the news for a horrible tragedy at a large industrial recycling and compost facility that is putting a further burden on residents by increasing air pollution in an already overburdened community.  In October, two boys were killed at the facility after inhaling the deadly gas, Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).

This was the last straw for the community residents.  They wanted answers: What is in our air?  What are we being exposed to?  And why is the facility still operating after two employee deaths and multiple violations of their conditional use permit?!

The Committee for a Better Arvin (CBA) staged protests, marches, lobbied elected officials and the County finally agreed with the residents and revoked the facility’s operating permit.

Victory, right?  Nope, not in this small community of color, comprised mostly of working class, Spanish speaking population.

This recycling and compost facility, Community Recycling and Resource Recovery (CRRR) has way too much money (read power) to be shut down by some angry farmers.  So the facility filed a lawsuit against the County’s decision and applied for another operating permit to expand their operations to include processing agricultural grade plastic.  So the facility filed a lawsuit against the County’s decision and applied for another operating permit to expand their operations to include processing agricultural grade plastic with the promise of new jobs.  Although jobs in the green industry are part of the solution,  not the way they are currently operating-   trying to be green does not give them a free pass to violate well accepted environmental safeguards and jeopardize public health.

AND, once again the corporations get a pass.  On January 6,2012; the County Judge overturned the County’s decision to revoke the operating permit!  Once again, the legislators folded to the power of the industry in favor of jobs over healthy, safe communities.

The worst part, is this is just one community, one example of large corporations not playing fair, getting exemptions from the law in which everyone else is expected to abide by.  We’ve seen this in fencline communities all over the world and it’s time for a change, time to shift the power into the hands of the people.

So, while the Air District is still trying to dig up the operating permit and emission inventory for the ‘recycling center’, the GCM team started planning a trip down there to empower the residents with a Bucket Brigade Training.  Stay tuned……

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