Posts Tagged ‘california’

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Safeway to Pay Nearly $10 Million for Waste Disposal Infractions

January 12th, 2015

SafewayFor the second largest supermarket chain in the nation, the New Year is off to a bad start.

In a decision levied by the Alameda County Superior Court, Safeway Inc. will have to pay $9.87 million as part of a settlement for improper hazardous waste management. The charges brought against Safeway are a result of a 3-year investigation of nearly 500 stores (including stores of Safeway-owned chains like Pak ‘N Save, Pavilions, and Vons) and distribution centers across the state.

Ironically, the investigation into Safeway started when district attorneys in Southern California were looking into the practices of a different business.  They discovered that Safeway was shipping hazardous waste from stores back to distribution centers without using licensed transporters. This information gave prosecutors enough reason to begin surprise waste inspections at stores across the state.

As the inspections rolled out, investigators discovered that workers at hundreds of Safeway locations were disposing of hazardous waste into common dumpsters. On top of that, workers were also tossing sensitive documents like pharmacy patient records without shredding them, leaving customers susceptible to identity theft.

On top of the financial penalty, the settlement stipulates that Safeway must continue its First Assistant Store Manager Program, which identifies and addresses compliance issues at the store level and oversees yearly store audits.  Between the start of the investigation and now, district attorneys have already been working with the company to develop new procedures to ensure proper waste disposal.

While Safeway admits no wrongdoing (a move we are used to seeing among big companies like this), they have agreed to “continue to dedicate significant resources to these important [waste management] programs”.

(Source)

Despite Recent Storms, California Still Far From Optimal Water Levels

December 18th, 2014

vineyardGiven the recent downpours that northern California has received, many people are left to wonder if they can take this as a sign to resume watering their lawn and taking longer showers. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. According to recent data, the Golden State is still faces a significant deficit in water levels.

According to recent satellite data collected by NASA, California needs around 11 trillion gallons of rainwater to end the record-setting drought. That’s enough water to fill an Olympic swimming pool 17 million times! The study to determine the amount of water the state needs was the first of its kind, using Earth’s gravitational field to measure fluctuations as well as documenting changes to the shape of the planet’s surface.

NASA also reported on the groundwater levels and the state of the snowcap. Data suggests that California’s 2 biggest river basins, the Sacramento and the San Joaquin, have lost a combined 4 trillion gallons of water per year since 2011. This year’s snowpack was one of the three lowest on record and the worst since 1977. With less snow we tend to see less sunlight reflection, which means Earth is absorbing much more heat then usual.

While the rain might not have put much of a dent in the amount of water we need, the states reservoirs received a substantial boost. According to measurements taken by the Department of Water Resources, 2 of the states largest reservoirs, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville, saw their water levels rise from 41% to 53% and 44% to 54%, respectively. The 10 other smaller reservoirs also saw their water levels rise.

California residents should take these signs as a reason to continue monitoring personal water use and cutting back as much as possible. That means checking pipes for leaks, taking shorter showers, turning off the faucet when washing your hands, and only washing full loads in the washer. You can find more water saving tips HERE.

Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/18/us/california-rains-and-drought/index.html

Water Thieves Adding to CA’s Drought Woes

November 15th, 2014

We are all well aware of the adverse effects the drought has brought upon the state and its residents. A few posts ago, I outlined one of the bigger causes for concern regarding our already depleted water levels, but recently news outlets have identified a new offender in the battle for water: Thieves.

In some of the state’s worst hit areas water has become a valuable commodity, with some people turning to illegal means as a way of acquiring it. Recent investigations have identified criminals operating illegal marijuana grow sites as some of the most prolific water thieves. According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Marijuana Enforcement Team, these marijuana farms have siphoned 1.2 billion gallons of water from local and public sources. That’s enough water to fill 2,000 Olympic-sized pools!

illegal water diversion

An example of an illegal pump that are used by thieves to steal water

The theft of water doesn’t just impact length of our showers and the extent we can water our plants, it puts local wildlife and vital resources in jeopardy. As a result of the theft by marijuana growers, the population of Salmon found throughout northern California has been put in severe danger.

Humboldt County has seen a couple major cases of water theft in the last several weeks. Criminals were able to steal around 20,000 gallons from a community services district board in the town of Weott. Three weeks later another 20,000 gallons of water were taken from a surplus tank at the Bridgeville Elementary School in Eureka, causing the school to shut down this past Tuesday.

In North San Juan, a small town located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains, thousands of gallons were stolen from a fire station this summer, during the peak of wildfire season. Although it is purely speculation at this point, most residents and authorities in the afore-mentioned areas suspect marijuana farmers to be behind the crimes.

In order to stop these criminals from stealing the states valuable resources, residents need to be dilligent about reporting any suspicious activity and waste. These reports are usually taken by the utilities department of your city or county.

Sources:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/energy/drought-is-taking-california-back-to-the-wild-wild-west-20141110

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/Pot-Farmers-Steal-Water-Amid-Epic-Drought-281822141.html

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/illegal-pot-plantations-hazard-california-salmon/

http://www.mercurynews.com/california/ci_24024319/water-theft-forces-humboldt-county-school-close

Amid legal strife, Oakland will return garbage contract to Waste Management

September 29th, 2014

84905_1280x720In a surprising turn of events, The City of Oakland has decided to bow out of the legal battle brought on by Waste Management and give back the contract that will keep the company in control of a majority of the waste collection services.

While the council’s unanimous vote allows California Waste Solutions (CWS) to still be in charge for collecting recyclables, garbage and compost collection duties will be the responsibility of Waste Management. This means that the hundred plus year relationship between Waste management and Oakland will continue.

Some city officials are meeting the decision with a sigh of relief. Under the previous contract, CWS would have had to drastically expand their operations in the city in a very short amount of time. This would include building new facilitates, acquiring 150 new trucks, and 300,000 new trash bins. Some officials whose advice fell on deaf ears suggested that the small East Bay company could not meet the lofty challenge.

On the other hand, a faction of officials who help get the contract in the hands of CWS in the first place are less than enthused. Councilwoman Desley Brooks offered her take on the situation, saying, “We have set a precedent here tonight that when people don’t get their way and they have enough money, they just do whatever they want to, say whatever they want to and there are no ramifications for what they do”.

As part of the new deal, Waste Management has agreed to drop the lawsuit, end the petition drive they started, and reimburse the city around $800,000 to cover their Oakland’s court costs.

(Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-OKs-waste-contract-compromise-5774321.php)

Waste Management taking Oakland to Court over Lost Contract

September 15th, 2014

In the wake of the recent controversy over the city of Oakland offering a 10-year contract to a rival company, Houston-based Waste waste_management_logo-320x220Management has decided to take their grievances to court.

Waste Management, the nations largest trash and recycling hauler, claims that the Oakland City Council hindered the bidding process in order to stack the odds in favor of the West Oakland-based California Waste Solutions (CWS). Citing the fact that CWS has never held a garbage hauling contract, submitted proposals past the agreed-upon due date, and failed to comply with Oakland’s contracting rules, Waste Management feels that the only reason Oakland awarded the valuable contract to CWS was due to “personal and political connections”.

Waste Management also adds that after they reviewed and rejected their proposal in May, City Council decided to re-open the bidding process and allow CWS to look at Waste Managements proposal in order to alter and re-submit a new proposal of their own (originally, CWS only wanted part of the contract, but was able to re-submit for the entire contract).

Not shockingly, the City Council is claiming no wrongdoing, as they feel they picked awarded the contract to the company that could provide the residents of Oakland the best value. Waste Managements proposal estimated that the city would have to endure no less then a 50 percent fee hike. City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan defended the choice saying, “It is completely normal to pick the one with the lowest price. We picked the one with the lowest price for the public. We saved the public $200 million.”

 

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Waste-Management-sues-Oakland-over-1-billion-5695911.php#photo-1922607

 
 
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