Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Green Puzzle: When Is a Soil Recycling Facility Not Like an Indian Casino?

We recently looked in on the controversy in Mecca, California about malodors allegedly produced by a contaminated-soil recycling company located on land belonging to the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians. The dispute has been heating up:
State hazardous waste regulators cracked down on the business earlier this month, notifying Western Environmental that it should not accept California waste because it lacked the required permits. The state also told Western Environmental’s customers not to bring their waste to the plant.

But in a letter sent to its customers this week, Western Environmental claims the state’s toxic substances control department “does not have authority to regulate such waste” at the Mecca facility because it’s on tribal land.
Right on! Tribal marketing is already rolling out a casino + hazmat-recycling + convenience store concept.
The state contends it has jurisdiction since the plant is neither owned by the tribe nor a tribal entity.
Tricky lawyer mumbo-jumbo. But then . . .
It’s unclear why the state allowed the plant to operate for seven years without the permits.
Why? Because California believes in green jobs! Oh, wait. California believes in clean air! Uh . . . let me get back to you.
Plant officials stress that no environmental agencies investigating the odor have been able to pinpoint Western Environmental as the only source of the problematic odor.
We don’t stink but even if we do there’s nothing you can do about it.

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