Stench From Waste Facility Overwhelms Calif. Town

Gillian Flaccus, WTOP-FM (Washington, D.C.), May 23, 2011

Students at Saul Martinez Elementary School had just piled in from recess when the principal began to field alarming calls: a powerful, propane-like stench had swept over the school grounds and was bringing children and teachers alike to their knees.

By the time it was over, as many as 40 people had been treated by paramedics for headaches, nausea, dizziness and asthma attacks.

During the coming months, state air quality regulators would field more than 200 additional complaints about the “rotten egg” fumes overtaking this dusty agricultural community at the northern tip of the Salton Sea and tracked the smell to a soil recycling facility that leases tribal land less than two miles from the school.

Authorities responded in force: Federal environmental regulators ordered Western Environmental, Inc., to temporarily stop operating, local air quality officials slapped it with a violation and the state began checking trucks entering the site for hazardous materials. The director of the state environmental agency called ending the odor the No. 1 priority.

But despite the speedy action, the case echoes several recent instances where state and local officials have struggled to deal with squalid migrant housing encampments on tribal land and raises similar questions: How far can the state go when regulating a business on Indian land and how can tribal officials cooperate without ceding their sovereignty?

Western Environmental, which is not tribally owned, has been operating on the reservation for seven years without a state permit, but didn’t attract the attention of authorities until complaints began last year. In part, this is because state agencies have little jurisdiction on tribal lands. The company holds a 20-year lease from the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.

{snip}

Western Environmental, Inc. opened in 2004 and treats and recycles dirt laced with petroleum, heavy metals and other chemicals that qualify as hazardous materials in California, where rules are stricter than at the federal level. It ramped up its operations dramatically in 2009, increasing the amount of hazardous waste it accepted there by more than tenfold to more than 113,000 tons from construction sites and brownfields across the state, according to state data.

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  • Anonymous

    As usual, this only illustrates that it is time to cleanse the waste….also, to do something about the garge facility.

  • Jeddermann.

    “How far can the state go when regulating a business on Indian land and how can tribal officials cooperate without ceding their sovereignty”

    I would have to assume this is a federal manner and not a state “thing”. That is tribal land and NOT part of the U.S. Most Americans are NOT aware that tribal lands are sovereign territory of a sovereign nation, that particular Indian tribe?

  • SKIP

    “Most Americans are NOT aware that tribal lands are sovereign territory of a sovereign nation, that particular Indian tribe?”

    This is true, but I believe that the federal government has overiding authority on reservations since gold was discovered in the black hills and when that happened, the fed (congress and those criminals) made some sort of rule that says the Indian Nations are under the jurisdiction (and whims and fantasies) of the fed. The powers that were wanted to make sure if gold was discovered on Indian land again, there would be a precedent for running them off of the land AGAIN! so the land (and gold) could be plundered. I also suspect that this “Indian tribe” is also a large and of blacks that have wormed their way into the tribe as did the ghetto blacks of the Piquat Indians in Connecticut.

  • Michael C. Scott

    This is California, so who cares? In addition, the town was described in the article as a “dusty agricultural community” and the school named as “Saul Martinez Elementary”. Readers here can easily guess who lives in a “dusty agricultural community” with Third-World school names in California.

  • Anonymous

    4 — Michael C. Scott wrote at 12:38 PM on May 24:

    This is California, so who cares? In addition, the town was described in the article as a “dusty agricultural community” and the school named as “Saul Martinez Elementary”. Readers here can easily guess who lives in a “dusty agricultural community” with Third-World school names in California.

    —————————————————————

    I CARE! I was born and raised in California when it truly was the Golden State! My how it has changed.

    WE should all care about EVERY State in the Union! These are OUR States, and WE allowed them all to be taken over by the nonwhite hordes. They are coming to YOUR state, if not already there. So don’t say, since it is California, who cares. WE all need to do something NOW about the mess WE allowed into our country and take back California and all the States that were once WHITE States. California is a beautiful State with gorgeous weather and WHITES should demand that we take it back for OUR progeny. Should we just settle for the states like Wyoming, Idaho Montana, Ohio, Minnesota, New York, and all the other COLD weather states? Or the ones with devastating tornadoes and hurricanes? NO! ALL this land is OURS!

  • Alexandra

    #5:

    We may have cold weather here in Ohio, but we’re not in danger of falling into the Pacific Ocean if/when the Big One hits.

  • Native Son of the Golden West

    Alexandra @ 5:

    We may have cold weather here in Ohio, but we’re not in danger of falling into the Pacific Ocean if/when the Big One hits.

    Yawn. We’ve been hearing about “The Big One” for eons now and if you know your geography, which you obviously don’t, there is approximately zero chance of California ever falling into the Pacific Ocean.

    How many Californians have been killed by earthquakes in the past 100 years?

    How many midwesterners have been killed due to freezing cold, floods or hurricanes in the past five years?

    Case closed.

  • Michael C. Scott

    California used to be an American state, but it isn’t anymore. It’s now merely a bigger version of Guatemala with better weather. It’s Brazil without the malaria, crocodiles and huge snakes, though the violent children roaming city streets are the same.

    Prussia and Pomerania used to be German, too; no Germans have lived there in over 60 years, and there’ll never be any there again. How many people can even find Konigsberg on a map today?

    Thrace used to be Greek, but there are no Greeks there, and maps do not show Constantinople.

    What I said in my first comment here might not have been pleasant, but in addition to being a race-realist, I am also a political realist. California is done, and reclaiming it would require a civil war and the widespread use of nuclear weapons.

  • Browser

    Alexandra wrote at 1:16 AM on May 26:

    We may have cold weather here in Ohio, but we’re not in danger of falling into the Pacific Ocean if/when the Big One hits.

    —————–

    My dear, California is in NO danger of “falling into the Pacific Ocean”! Get real. (You probably believe in The Rapture too.)

    California will continue having earthquakes, a natural phenomenon, as it has had for millions of years, but it isn’t going anywhere.

    Are you afraid that the next tornado is going to blow Ohio into Lake Erie? Same difference.