Judge: Controversial Lamont plant can stay open longer

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A judge has given a controversial Lamont composting facility a new lease on life, at least for another month.

On Tuesday, Kern County Judge J. Eric Bradshaw issued a stay of closure through at least Jan. 24, allowing conflicting sides time to submit written arguments.

Citing a number of health and safety violations, the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously earlier this month to revoke Community Recycling & Resource Recovery's operating permit. The board also voted to fine the facility $2.33 million.

Scrutiny on the plant's operations - it takes in various materials and turns those into compost - came to a head in October when two brothers working there died from exposure to fumes while cleaning a drainage tunnel.

Lamont Public Utility District and workers facing layoffs are fighting the plant's closure, which county supervisors ordered to take place by Dec. 15. Utility officials say they have no place to send wastewater if the plant closes.

"Taking the composting operation from across the street and finding an alternate solution, you're really looking at realistically a year to accomplish that, if it can be accomplished," said Larry Peake, the utility district's attorney.