California Investigating Cluster of Birth Defects in Kettleman City

Health investigators have begun looking into a number of birth defects that have occurred in Kettleman City, a small town in Kings County, California. Residents suspect that the Kettleman City birth defects may be caused by hazardous waste from a nearby chemical disposal facility, which has been looking to expand.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger ordered both the California Department of Public Health and the California Environmental Protection Agency (CAL-EPA) to take aggressive action to investigate the environmental and health issues in Kettleman City on Friday. Out of 20 children born in the town of 1,500 between September 2007 and November 2008, five had facial birth defects. Residents also say there have been a high number of miscarriages as well.

The probe was launched after residents protested outside of U.S. EPA headquarters last week.

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Chemical Waste Management, Inc. seeks to expand a nearby hazardous waste disposal facility which is already the largest in the western part of the country. Residents were unsuccessful in convincing the Kings County Board of Supervisors to deny the company permission to expand the facility last year.

Chemical Waste Management officials say that they believe their facility meets all state standards and is not playing a role in the recent cluster of birth defects in Kettleman City. Some have suggested that Kettleman City may also be exposed to potential health problems due to diesel emissions or pesticides used on nearby farms. The town is located between San Francisco and Los Angeles on Interstate 5, a major trucking corridor.

“There is nothing more important than the health and safety of the public,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “My administration is committed to the community of Kettleman City and will use our resources to conduct a thorough investigation to provide these hard-working people with answers and the peace of mind they deserve.”

CAL-EPA and state health officials will present their initial findings on February 9.


  • SylviaNovember 17, 2010 at 12:51 am

    I was DX w/ cirrosis of the liver......

  • JohnMarch 22, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    Beware of the State officials who will be prone to favor commerce first. Beware of commercial entities, they will definitely use deceptions to obtain profit. Collateral damage will matter little to them.

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