Friday will mark one year since two men
died at the Community Recycling Center near Lamont. A new study by a local
group shows the poisonous gas that killed the men, still lingers at dangerous
levels around the facility.
According to officials, hydrogen sulfide gas
killed the men on October 12th, 2011.
The Committee for a Better Arvin has been
taking air samples near the facility since the deaths, hoping to prove
Community Recycling is polluting the air.
Flowers and white crosses still sit outside
the facility's entrance as reminders of the two men who died because of a
hazardous gas at this facility.
"It's polluting our air, and it's
polluting it in a degree that's not tolerable," said Sal Partida,
President of the Committee for a Better Arvin, about Community Recycling.
The group's belief that the facility is
polluting the air is why, for the last year, they've been taking air samples
around the facility, testing for unsafe levels of air pollution.
"We got the training to take the precise
samples so that nobody can say you took them wrong," said Partida.
The committee said it found 18
times the EPA safe level for hydrogen sulfide near the facility. It's the
same gas that killed the workers.
"You can smell it every day. It's a
strong smell that hits you," said Byanka Santoyo, who said she got migranes while
testing the air.
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
District is the governmental agency in charge of checking the facility. They
said they are currently reviewing the group's report. But, based on their
initial findings, they said they don't necessarily think the numbers the
committee found are as bad as they seem.
"We do know that what they are
indicating for hydrogen sulfide is below the one-hour standard for hydrogen
sulfide. It is actually below what the EPA says is allowable," said Jamie
Holt, Communications Director for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control
District based in Fresno.
The Valley Air District said it has not
done hydrogen sulfide tests of their own at the facility in the last couple
years. But, because of the study they're checking on the facility weekly. The
committee hopes those checks will lead to the facility's closure.
"We have the worst air and we want to
fix our air," said Santoyo. "We want them to shut down. We want it
shut down completely."
There is a pending lawsuit with the county
that may close the facility.
Neither Community Recycling nor its attorney
could be reached for comment on Thursday.
The committee will hold a rally near the
facility at the intersection of Highway 184 and Highway 223 on Sunday at 2 p.m.