My last week’s web log called attention to a situation at an Arvin, CA, compost facility involving the death of two workers overcome by a high concentration of hydrogen sulfide in a tunnel they were cleaning.
The essence of my editorializing amounted to the following:
* I see composting getting preferential treatment when it comes to public oversight.
* There was no record of workplace violations at the facility. Does this mean that it wasn’t a problem, or was it that they weren’t looking at composting facilities with the same fervor they might with a landfill?
* Without subjecting compost operations to the same standards of oversight and pollution management as we do landfills, we will remain as ignorant of the health and safety threat as the people in the Lamont area who smelled the “strong odor” and considered it “just part of the environment.”
While the majority of comments to my posting were generally in agreement with my basic thesis, there were several that took issue with my remarks, seeing them as unnecessarily critical of composting and, in a couple of cases, reminding me that both Cal/OSHA or CalRecycle lacked authority to act in the particular situation and that both air emissions and leachate from composting are currently under review by the state’s air and water board, rendering my remarks premature.
First, I’d like to thank all who made comment, both pro and con, indicating to me, at least, that this is a subject of some significant concern. Then I’d like to make clear that my comments were not intended to shine a spotlight on any particular organization, but rather the situation itself. I agree that there are more than enough regulations in Arvin and elsewhere to make it appear that the situation is well under control, but my question as to the sufficiency of the oversight remains.