by GIBRAN ‘GIBZ’ MONCAYO/South Kern Sol
BAKERSFIELD–On Nov. 15 Kern County Board of Supervisors ordered the closure of Community Recycling Center located in Arvin after the death of two employees.
This board decision was reached a little more than a month after the deaths of Armando Ramirez, 16, and his brother Helandio, 22, inhaled a fatal concentration of hydrogen sulfide.
The meeting began at 2 p.m. with about 80 people in attendance, which left the small room three-quarters full. Although the room was silent there was an anxious feeling present.
Before the decision was reached the board allowed for public comment.
The first speaker was Ron Rodgers, who spoke about the sites and said the community should thank Community Recycling for its service.
“I’ve been to all three of these [sites] that you have pictures of, they are doing the community a service. We need to thank Community Recycling and get rid of this junk rather than hammering them,” said Rodgers. “They spend millions of dollars a year and employ a lot of people.”
Mary J. Wilson added that Community Recycling business was agricultural recycled materials not waste materials.
“Dumping was actually a commodity to the community [farmers]. Attorney John Marshal defined and clarified the issues that the Board we’re speaking of,” said Wilson. “Properties that we are dealing with are #20-24 is owned by T&R Fry Trust, while #23 is leased to Lamont Public Utility District. Plastic materials or bales were to be transported to a new recycling plant to be turned into plastic pellets.”
However, those in favor of the closure like Ingrid Brostom, staff attorney from the Center on Race Poverty & the Environment (CRPE), explained to Board that it wasn’t their first offense.
“These are long and extensive issues that happen to reoccur. They go about without permits. It all boils down to an unfair advantage to overall competition,” said Brostom. “It has been unjust enrichment through having unlawful acceptance of waste materials.”
The Community Recycling compound and lands are owned by the T&R Fry Family Trusts. Community Recycling has had a history of violations such as, “change of land use without the Board’s approval,” “failure to keep it from being a public nuisance,” “the unlawful dumping of miscellaneous items.”
Lupe Martinez, assistant director of organizing in Delano from CRPE, wanted the Board to fine and/or order the closure to send a message to not only Community Recycling but to other businesses’.
“I think we need to send a message to not only Community Recycling but to other businesses that we have rules and regulation that this County has for a reason,” said Martinez. To not cite them, sends a message to other companies, come to Kern County where you don’t need to follow the law.”
However, for Danny Hernandez it came down to one major factor- the death of Armando and Helandio.
“If it weren’t for these two deaths, workers and representatives would not be here, and their repeated violation would continue without anyone noticing it,” said Hernandez. “They are making millions off of these materials they get. Make them feel the pain, charge them more than $10,000!”
For more South Kern Sol coverage on Community Recycling Center please go to this link: https://southkernsol.org/2012/01/05/calosha-investigates/