Recycling facility in Coachella Valley agrees to eliminate odors
A Coachella Valley recycling and composting facility signed an agreement this week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate noxious odors that local residents and school officials have long complained about.
The agreement with Western Environmental Inc. and Waste Reduction Technologies, which operates facilities on the Cabazon Reservation near Mecca, calls for the company to install an odor-control misting system, more thoroughly identify incoming wastes for potential odors and implement measures to control additional odors if they occur. The company would be subject to financial penalties if it fails to comply.
“Today’s agreement includes binding commitments for the facilities to identify and eliminate the odors that have plagued Mecca,” Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest, said in a statement Wednesday. “Our efforts are part of a collaboration with the Cabazon Tribe to ensure that the facilities operate in a way that protects human health. We are also coordinating our actions with the state of California to respond to the concerns of the local residents.”
In May, the Southern California Air Quality Management District, which had received 215 odor complaints in the area since December, cited Western Environmental for discharging harmful air pollutants. It will seek civil penalties.
The EPA then prohibited the company from accepting contaminated soils, biosolids, and soy whey wastes because of their strong potential to generate odors.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside
Photo: A heavy-duty truck pulling a water tank is dwarfed by a mound of contaminated soil brought to Western Environmental Inc. near Mecca for decontamination. The company signed an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate noxious odors. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times