Nine months after two brothers were killed at a composting facility near Lamont, 17 News has learned of a trial date to determine if the plant should shut down. This comes as the community honors their memory with a new memorial outside Community Recycling, where the brothers lost their lives in October.
It is a permanent reminder of the tragic accident inside the plant last fall. The mother of Eladio and Armando Ramirez is calling for the plant to shut down. But, the fate of the facility is up to a judge.
Fastima Ramirez propped a photo of her only two sons Sunday against a pot of flowers. Behind those flowers was a more permanent reminder of her loss. There are two white crosses cemented into the ground. There is one for Armando Ramirez and one for his older brother, 22-year-old Eladio.
"My life took a very ugly turn. It's not the same not to have my children with me," said Fastima Ramirez.
Armando and Eladio were killed by toxic fumes while working on a drainage canal at Community Recycling near Lamont in October. "It's been nine months and there's no resolution. I want this business to shut down. There's a lot of people working under dangerous conditions," continued Ramirez.
State regulators said Armando Ramirez used a fake ID to get the job. He was only 16. "This company is somebody who came over here to make money and that's all they are interested in. And, that process takes lives with them," said Sal Partida, President, Community for a Better Arvin.
In November, county supervisors fined the plant $2.3 million and ordered the facility to shut down. "We absolutely want to make sure that businesses like this are safe and that we are employing all mechanisms to make sure the employees are safe," said Karen Goh, 5th District Supervisor.
Community Recycling and the Lamont Sewer District fought the closure with a lawsuit against the county. Late last year, an attorney for Community Recycling said the company had taken steps to prevent another accident. The company also said calls for the facility to be immediately closed were unwarranted.
In February, Judge Eric Bradshaw decided the facility could stay open temporarily so the county could decide where to send millions of gallons of wastewater at the recycling plant.
"The case right now is pending with the judge, and we will just need to wait until he moves to the next step and decides an outcome. What we have done as a county is what we were able to do, and now it's up to a judge," noted Supervisor Goh.
The case is scheduled to go trial next year. A judge will decide whether the plant can stay open. The trial is expected to begin February 4, 2013.
Our calls to Community Recycling on Monday were not returned.