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Kettleman City Reaps Toxic Harvest of Calif. Sludge and CAFO/Factory Farm Wastes

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KETTLEMAN CITY -- Maria Saucedo cried as she spoke of the two babies she has lost in Kettleman City -- one to birth defects and the other in a miscarriage.

There's no proof, but she blames the toxic landscape surrounding her town. She and others who have suffered in Kettleman City say they live in a nasty soup of pollution. They make a compelling case.

Just west is the largest hazardous waste landfill this side of the Mississippi River. Electricity buzzes overhead along tall towers supplying power up and down the state. Pesticide is sprayed in nearby orchards. Diesel smoke wafts from Interstate 5 and Highway 41.

"It's a nightmare," Saucedo told state health authorities last year.

The latest: Treated human sewage from more than 5 million people in Los Angeles County is supposed to be composted on farmland east of town. The first deliveries could start as soon as late summer.

"When somebody flushes a toilet in Los Angeles County, it will end up in Kings County," says Jonathan London of the University of California at Davis, which published a study in late 2011 about health risks in the San Joaquin Valley.

Indeed, the Valley may lead the world in farming, but tiny Kettleman City reaps a harvest of California castoffs. The town is the most obvious example of the Valley's habit of hosting businesses that nobody wants for a neighbor, but there are others.


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