Pollution at its Worst: California’s Hazardous Waste Problem

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Earlier today I saw this article about how Walmart plead guilty to dumping hazardous waste in 16 different California communities. According to the article this is the second of this type of incident for Walmart. The first was back in 2010 when Walmart agreed to pay $27.6 million dollars as part of their settlement. Now, as part of their latest plea Walmart has agreed to pay $81 million to settle misdemeanor charges in California. The settlement will also covers similar allegations in Missouri. Unfortunately this latest instance is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to California’s pollution issues and continuously growing hazardous waste problem, yet it is a really good example of pollution at its worst.

Take a look at this ToxiCalifornia infographic and you’ll get a little better idea on the scope of things:

To give you a better idea, let me share a few facts and figures with you: the state of California currently has 515 sites polluted with hazardous materials, it also has 98 Superfund sites (Superfund is a federally-run, government program established to clean up the nationwide problem presented by hazardous waste sites), California is second only to New Jersey when it comes to Superfund sites, and only 3 California landfills are actually capable of handling hazardous materials. Due to the fact that the state continues to generate more hazardous waste materials than it has the capacity or resources to handle, California has been trucking its hazardous waste to nearby states who, coincidentally, have less stringent rules when it comes to the disposal of such waste. If this is allowed to continue, how long do you think until those states are trucking their waste to other states, and so on and so forth?

Since California is unable to effectively handle and dispose of hazardous waste materials in the form of arsenic, asbestos, cyanide, pesticides, oil and gasoline products, radioactive elements and other types of toxic waste, these materials have been encroaching not only on local communities but in communities of neighboring states as well. Health issues are a growing and major concern because these materials are well-known for causing serious injuries and illnesses. So, what do you think about this problem? Do you have ideas or solution you feel might be able to help turn around California’s growing hazardous waste problem?

Featured image by Keith Tyler via Flickr Creative Commons

One Comment

  1. I had no idea that there was such a big problem with properly disposing of hazardous waste. With so few sites being able to handle a large capacity of toxic waste, I can understand why it would be so important to make sure that radioactive isotopes are properly taken care of in a way that won’t radiate through the soil. Thanks for all the interesting pollution information.

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