LAMONT, Calif. - Community groups in Arvin and Lamont have reached an agreement with a large composting facility outside of Lamont.
Officials said the agreement with Recology Blossom Valley Organics-South will bring significant economic and environmental benefits to a region that has been overburdened by pollution for decades.
This agreement marks nearly a decade of work by local residents to curb pollution and odors from the previous owner's operation of the facility and will provide some immediate relief to residents living near the mega-composting facility. The agreement will ensure the operation is safe, protects public health, and also makes significant financial investments in the community.
"Side by side with the Center on Race Poverty & the Environment we fought against Community Recycling and Resource Recovery since 2007. Today to be able to partner with the new operator is exciting. I hope that we can all work together to improve both our air quality and our communities," said Estela Escoto of Committee for a Better Arvin and long-time resident of Arvin in a news release.
The members of Committee for a Better Arvin and Comite Progreso De Lamont have been working with Recology over the past two years to address residents' long-standing concerns over the air pollution and odors that emanated from the site previously. In 2011, Kern County revoked Community Recycling's permit after years of community complaints, chronic noncompliance with County standards, and the deaths of Armando and Eladio Ramirez after they inhaled hydrogen-sulfide fumes emitted from rotting waste while working at the facility.
A lawsuit filed against the County allowed the facility to remain in operation. Community Recycling sold the facility to Recology in 2015.
"We are finally able to hope for a better community. We are able to work with the new company, Recology, to reduce air pollution and to increase investments where we live," said Jose Mireles, a member of Comite Progreso De Lamont and a resident of Lamont for over 40 years.
Recology has committed to installing an aeration system that will reduce pollution by at least 80%, and this commitment was a driving factor for the community groups to enter into negotiations. The goals of the agreement are to maintain an open line of communication with the nearby residents of Lamont, Weedpatch, and Arvin, improve neighborhood safety and livability, and ensure a high quality of environmental standards are met.
"Recology has been committed to working hand in hand with our community stakeholders to ensure that Blossom Valley Organics - South operates successfully, transparently, safely and to the benefit of the region. This agreement memorializes that commitment," said Eric Potashner, Vice President & Senior Director Strategic Affairs at Recology.
This agreement signifies a new beginning for the residents of Lamont and Arvin in terms public health and safety, and a partnership between Recology and the local community.