Over a year after frustrated Kettleman City residents petitioned state officials to conduct an investigation into the cause behind reported birth defects and wrongful deaths in the San Joaquin Valley farming area, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally responded. Jared Blumenfeld, the regional director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) http://www.epa.gov traveled to the small town, located next to Interstate 5 between Los Angeles and San Francisco, to view the general condition of the Chemical Waste Management dump as well as speak with the affected families, according to information provided by the LA Times. Blumenfeld reportedly described the state of affairs as “a human tragedy at a scale…none of us would want to have to endure. We will take our time and spend time on the ground.” The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) http://www.cdph.ca.gov is expected to release preliminary findings on Tuesday, February 9, 2010.
Blumenfeld interviewed the mothers of several children who suffered cleft palates as well as other birth defects. In an interview with one mother, identified as Maura Alatorre, she explained how her 20-month-old son had been born with a cleft palate and was devastatingly missing a piece of his brain. In another interview, a Joaquin Valley resident, Lizbeth Canales, sadly miscarried a female fetus, with alleged “heart problems and clubbed feet and hands”.
Surveys conducted by city residents and activists demonstrated that of 20 babies born in Kettleman City from September 2007 to November 2009, five allegedly suffered serious facial deformities. According to information collected by authorities from the Kings County Public Health Department, six of 64 babies were born with severe birth defects during the same time period. According to SanLuisObispo.com, three of these babies later died. The community’s residents’ reportedly believe the Houston-based Waste Management landfill, suspected to emit toxins into the air, water and soil within the area, may be to blame for the heartrending occurrences. The toxic waste facility is the only landfill in the state of California allowed to accept PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), which are known to be cancer-causing agents. An official from Waste Management Inc. allegedly stated, “We believe our Kettleman Hills facility is highly protective of human health and the environment.” The company is seemingly cooperating with state health and environmental officials with regard to, what many perceive as an investigation that is “long-overdue”.
Activists have reportedly proposed a suspension on the expansion of the Chemical Waste Management landfill, expected to reach its waste-limit in 2011, pending further investigations by the EPA and the California Department of Public Health.
Leading wrongful death attorney Mary Alexander, states if your child has suffered a birth defect resulting in deformity or death, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and damages. Contacting a seasoned wrongful death lawyer who is knowledgeable in litigating your specific claims may help you recover damages you deserve.
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