California Environmental Law & Policy Update - January 2015 #2

Allen Matkins

Environmental and Policy Focus

Ground broken on controversial California bullet train project

Los Angeles Times - Jan 8

On Tuesday, Governor Jerry Brown and other California leaders launched the state’s high-speed rail project at a ceremony in downtown Fresno, declaring the city the nation’s high-speed rail capital and the “central cog” of a new transportation system. The Governor, seeking to reset the public debate on the controversial $68 billion project, stressed the benefits the completed project could bring the state. Robbie Hunter, director of the state’s building trades union council, said the event marked the start of the “greatest infrastructure project, not only in the history of California, but the nation,” noting the project will generate 66,000 jobs annually over the next 16 years.

Safeway ordered to pay nearly $10 million for illegal dumping in California

Sacramento Bee - Jan 5

A judge ordered Safeway to pay nearly $10 million to 41 California counties and cities for illegally disposing of household chemicals and medicines from its stores and distribution centers over a seven-year span. The $9.87 million settlement, approved Friday in Alameda County Superior Court, stems from allegations that more than 500 California stores and distribution centers in the Pleasanton-based supermarket chain improperly handled and disposed of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste that came from spills and customer returns. Safeway officials did not admit wrongdoing and, in a statement, said it was “among a number of retailers to agree to changes in how it characterizes everyday retail items no longer for sale as hazardous waste,” items such as aerosol sprays, detergents, hair dyes, and antibacterial soaps.

Court order final blow to landfill near Joshua Tree National Park

KCET - Dec 31

A federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered a final judgment reversing a 1999 land swap in Riverside County, in which about 3,800 acres of public land had been given to Kaiser Eagle Mountain company to build a large landfill adjacent to Joshua Tree National Park, and dismissed the 15-year-old lawsuits. The land, adjoining the company's existing iron mine, would have been used to build a large landfill that Kaiser would have sold to the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. The Sanitation Districts, however, backed out of the deal in 2013. Under the terms of the court-approved settlement, 2,846 acres of land Kaiser Eagle Mountain gave to the government as part of the 1999 land exchange will stay in federal hands and will be managed by the Bureau of Land Management for its conservation value.

99 Cents Only Stores to pay $2.3 million in hazardous waste case

KPBS - Jan 6

Los Angeles-based 99 Cents Only Stores will pay more than $2.36 million to resolve allegations that hazardous waste from its California stores was illegally dumped in area landfills. The settlement, approved by San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Bob McNatt, is the culmination of a civil enforcement investigation into 99 Cents Only Stores' alleged improper storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous and pharmaceutical waste products into company trash bins at each of its 251 stores and distribution centers in California, prosecutors said. Instead of being sent to authorized disposal sites, prosecutors from 29 city and district attorney offices claimed hazardous waste and other contaminated materials were unlawfully transported to landfills. Upon being notified by prosecutors of the widespread issues, 99 Cents Only Stores worked cooperatively to remedy the issue and train its employees to properly handle hazardous waste being generated through damage, spills, and returns, authorities said.


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Allen Matkins

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