Environmental Hazards

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“Texting” is Latest Weapon in War on Central Valley Pollution

By: Sasha Khokha

Weedpatch residents voice concerns to environmental officials. (Photo: Tracey Brieger)

Weedpatch residents address concerns to environmental officials about pollution problems in Kern County. (Tracey Brieger: Californians for Pesticide Reform)

What would you do if you saw a pipe spewing black water into your street? Would you know who to call? What if you could take a picture of it and text it in to someone who promised to look into the problem, no questions asked? A new website could make it easier for residents of some of Kern County’s poorest farmworker towns to do just that.

You don’t usually see tour buses bouncing along the county’s rural roads, pock-marked with potholes, winding past almond orchards and miles of dusty vegetable fields. But recently, some two dozen state, local, and federal officials climbed aboard a giant bus to visit farmworker communities facing a host of environmental problems.

Tom Frantz, a local air quality activist and almond farmer helping to lead the tour, bellowed into the bus intercom. “On our right is the community recycling center. San Joaquin valley is the trash dump for Los Angeles,” he said.  The bus stopped at a composting facility that handles green waste and food scraps from L.A.

“This is where two workers from Arvin tragically died when they were asked to go down into drainage pipe that was filled with hydrogen sulfide,” Frantz explains. Continue reading