BRAWLEY, Calif. - The reopening of the Brawley beef plant brings the promise of new jobs. In an area with over 21% unemployment that’s good news, says Brawley Mayor Sam Couchman.
“There’s certainly jobs but there’s also those extra jobs that are out there that are related to trucking, feed yards, cattle.”
But Comite Civico del Valle director Luis Olmedo said the plant might also bring serious health issues.
“Government has a responsibility to meaningfully engage the community that means having extensive amount of workshops, make sure people in the community understand the implications and the opportunities that these type of industries brings. But that didn’t happen. And it’s still not happening yet,” Olmedo said.
He said the previous beef plant, National Beef, is an example.
“It will affect our community. It will cost our community if we don’t do this right,” Olmedo said.
National Beef plant cost the city a hefty fine and the violations may have been a factor in the plant shutting down.
“The city was fined a million dollars because of the waste discharge that the national beef plant was sending to the city,” Couchman said.
Couchman said the city is being careful this time.
“That’s why we’re being cautious about waste water,” Couchman said.
But, Olmedo said his organization filed a petition to the state water resources board asking to carefully review the plant’s permits.
“Our letter points out many deficiencies,” Olmedo said.
Couchman agreed there may be an odor problem with the beef plant but he didn’t call it a health risk.
“I’m not so sure that i believe and i probably don’t believe that odor is necessarily a health risk,” Couchman said.