BY JAMES BURGER Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
A used tampon applicator, iPhone charger parts, broken plastic cutlery and a discarded bubble wand were found in green waste the city of Los Angeles dumped illegally in Kern County over the past six months.
Kern County Public Health Department officials put the trash, found at a solar power installation in Rosamond, on display Tuesday morning at a meeting of the Kern County Board of Supervisors.
Similar trash-laced greenwaste was found at an illegal Lebec transfer station last month, said Chuck Lackey, Kern County engineering, surveying and permit services director.
The dumping violates county and state regulations at both sites, officials said, and Kern County supervisors called for aggressive action, including possibly leveling fines against the violators.
“We’re a little bit touchy down here about L.A. dumping their waste on Kern County ground," said Supervisor Mike Maggard.
Supervisor David Couch — who helped uncover the situation — expressed surprise at Los Angeles’ behavior, particularly since it is in an eight-year court battle with Kern County over the application of Los Angeles biosolids on Kern County land.
Kern County Counsel Theresa Goldner said Los Angeles attorneys are "keenly aware" of the situation.
"I'd like to ‘keenly’ stick our finger in their face and say, ‘Stop dumping your stuff,’" Maggard said.
Lackey said in Lebec, trucks with the city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation dumped hundreds of tons of leaves, branches and grass clippings mixed with plastics and other trash.
The material was then picked up by a Kern County trucking company and taken to the Synagro composting facility in Taft.
Lackey said the land where the transfer took place doesn’t have a permit to accept that kind of waste — making the practice illegal.
In Rosamond, where the SunPower company uses the mix to control dust at a solar farm, there are no land use violations, he said.
But Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben Arroyo said he has “huge concerns” that the waste has not been processed well enough to prevent Los Angeles from exporting disease and harmful insects into Kern County.
And, Kern County officials say, while no toxic chemicals have been discovered in the mix, they are still trying to confirm exactly what else might be in the hundreds of tons of material already dumped in Lebec and Rosamond.
Lackey said he has asked the city of Los Angeles to tell him exactly what the material is and the processes it has undergone.
Until he knows that, he said, he can’t address Arroyo’s concerns.
At that point, Lackey said he will know more about whether administrative hearings on the dumping are needed, and whether fines or penalities are in order.
A call to the city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation was not returned.