California’s been dumping tons of contaminated soil in Arizona

PARKER, Arizona — The Colorado River can be a magical line.

Crossing the river near Parker, Arizona, waste that California considers hazardous becomes Arizona’s regular trash.

“Since 2018, California has collected more than 660,000 tons of contaminated soil and dumped it into regular landfills in Arizona,” said CalMatters reporter Robert Lewis.

organization broke the story in January, following a months-long investigation into how California disposed of its toxic waste.

“So every year California digs Hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated soilLewis said. “Toxins, nasties, DDT, lead, heavy metals.”

california environmental standards tougher than the federal government. Under state law, these toxic materials are to be disposed of in landfills specifically intended to handle hazardous materials.

Or you can ship to states with relaxed rules, like Arizona.

“Nothing magical happens when this soil crosses from California to Arizona. What happens is that California regulations stop at the border. That waste doesn’t,” Lewis said. says.

Investigation revealed that California dumped Nearly half of hazardous waste such as Utah and Arizona.

Near communities like where David Harper lives.

“If it’s not dangerous, why not keep it in Los Angeles?” Harper asked. “Why should it be near our community?”

Near Native American Reservation

The two landfills in Arizona where California dumps waste are the La Paz County landfill and the Southern Yuma County landfill.

Both are near Native American reservations.

“Let’s take it to the reservation,” said Harper. “It’s cheaper and it doesn’t affect anyone. If it does, it’s the poor, low-income people.”

Harper is a member of the Colorado River Indian community and an environmental activist. The reservation will end approximately five miles from a landfill in La Paz County where 160,000 tons of contaminated California soil have been dumped since 2018.

“There is a limited amount of oversight for such facilities. They do not conduct groundwater monitoring at that landfill,” Lewis said.

Republic Services operates the La Paz County Landfill and has a clean record.

In a statement, the company said it is committed to safety and environmental responsibility, some of which said:

“The Arizona La Paz Landfill is operated in an environmentally safe and responsible manner that meets established federal and state environmental standards for the safe management of waste. Operating under an approved groundwater outage plan for the past 25 years, The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. We utilize a state-of-the-art engineered composite liner system, including…

Southern Yuma County landfill found by CalMatters Environmental record 12News did not respond to a request for comment.

why Arizona?

Simply put, it’s legal and cheap to do so.

Arizona’s environmental laws are not as stringent as California’s. CalMatters has found that it is often at least 20-60% cheaper to ship waste to a regular landfill in another state than to dispose of it at one of California’s hazardous waste sites. bottom.

“If you believe that this material is so dangerous that the state, as the state of California, should dispose of it in a hazardous waste disposal facility, it is unconscionable to dump it outside of a Native American reserve in Arizona. “And if it weren’t so dangerous and could be properly disposed of in a regular landfill, it would drive up costs for businesses, governments and taxpayers for no good reason.”

Lewis said there might be suggestion A few years passed when the practice could be finished. However, the plan is by no means certain.

12News went to Parker to talk to people about trash. Most people didn’t care if the waste was toxic. They said they don’t want to put California trash in Arizona.

“It’s a mistake. Keep it there,” said Drew, a Parker resident. “I want to get the truck and send it back.”

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