KETTLEMAN CITY, Calif., Jan. 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. environmental agency plans to investigate a possible link between an apparent cluster of birth defects in a poor California town and a toxic waste dump.
Kettleman City in the Central Valley about halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles on Interstate 5 is home to about 1,500 people, many of them poor migrant farm workers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday its scientists will examine whether the nearby dump has caused facial deformities in infants there, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Jared Blumenfeld, regional EPA administrator for the Pacific Southwest, told the Times in an interview Tuesday the Obama administration is looking more at issues of economic justice.
"Kettleman City is a very vulnerable community at the confluence of large agriculture and pesticide use, heavy truck traffic, a chemical waste facility accepting PCBs and a proposed 600-megawatt power plant," Blumenfeld said. "This is also a community trying to be represented in a way to get its voice heard.."
Kettleman City residents have gone to court to try to block Kings County from expanding the dump to accept toxic waste from Los Angeles and other cities.