Newsom And Pelosi To Pay Up $300M?

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

In California’s renowned Napa Valley, waste disposal and landfill workers are seeking $300 million in compensation, alleging exposure to hazardous chemicals while cleaning up post the 2020 Glass wildfire. These workers also assert that they faced racial discrimination and retaliation for exposing the pollution risks posed by Clover Flat Landfill, which has links to political figures such as Governor Gavin Newsom and Representative Nancy Pelosi.

The workers, who filed their complaint with California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, claim they had no prior experience or training for dealing with such emergencies. Yet, they were sent to clean the aftermath of the fire before officials could inspect the scene.

Jose Garibay Jr., a former landfill supervisor, detailed the ordeal of a 15-member crew working extensive hours without proper training or equipment, save for N95 masks. The rushed cleanup process led to exposure to harmful substances like methane gas and leachate water, compromising their safety.

Garibay, once a truck driver who rose to the role of operations supervisor, was dismissed after voicing his concerns about health hazards at the landfill. Meanwhile, the landfill’s former proprietors denied any fire damage, contrary to inspection findings from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board which confirmed severe impact.

The site has since been acquired by Waste Connections Inc., yet some former management figures remain. The workers’ grievances extend to Christy Pestoni, linked to the founding family of the collection business, who also owns a winery in the vicinity.

Meanwhile, ex-mayor Geoff Ellsworth, from St. Helena, where Pelosi owns a vineyard, has long raised concerns about the landfill’s pollution risks. Despite numerous attempts to seek help from government agencies and officials over the years, his efforts were fruitless.

In addition, landfill workers Gary Hernandez and Ricky Hernandez allege that they were compelled to work during the wildfire evacuation order and while they tested positive for COVID-19 during the pandemic’s peak.

The affected workers, along with Ellsworth, are demanding an investigation into the landfill’s prior management and testing for potential toxic materials. As allegations of legal violations mount, the situation’s implications for the Napa Valley wine and hospitality industries also come under scrutiny.