Date: January 30, 2010
Source: News Room
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has initiated a formal investigation into rising birth defects in a small town in central California that is also home to Chemical Waste Management's (CWM) Kettleman Hills Landfill. Health officials have reported that five of 63 children born between September 2007 and November 2008 suffered facial defects of which three have since died. That compares with California health statistics that show that clefts of the lip or palate routinely occur in less than one in 800 births. "There is nothing more important than the health and safety of the public," said Schwarzenegger. CWM is a division of Waste Management, Inc. and owner of the Kettleman Hills Landfill near the town which is the largest hazardous waste facility in the western US. The facility was recently granted permission to expand which has riled activists and raised concerns among local citizens. Waste Management supports a health study but has argued that there is no proven link betweenthe birth defects and their facility. Company spokeswoman Kit Cole said "We think our site is very protective of human health and the environment, but we also recognize that the families of Kettleman City need and deserve answers."