Four Arrested in Toxic Dump Site Protest

Times Staff Writer

Four members of the environmental organization Greenpeace were arrested near the Casmalia Resources hazardous waste dump Monday as they attempted to block traffic into the site.

Three of those arrested were aboard a yellow Greenpeace bus thate demonstrators disabled by flattening all four tires, blocking the main road into the landfill, about a mile from the entrance.

The arrested protesters, Ed Martinez, 28, of Santa Cruz, Bill Whiting, 40, of San Francisco, and Traci Romine, 25, of North Hollywood, chained themselves inside the bus. Another protester, Greg Trexler, 36, of Los Angeles, was arrested as he attempted to puncture a tire as authorities tried toreinflate the tires.

Trexler was arrested on suspicion of interfering with an officer and the others were were arrested on suspicion of blocking a roadway, said a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department. All four were booked at Santa Barbara County Jail and released on $500 bail.

About 50 residents from nearby communities and members of Greenpeace stood beside the bus and waved placards and chanted slogans.

On Sunday, 72 physicians and surgeons in nearby Santa Maria Valley placed a signed advertisement in a Santa Barbara newspaper calling for the immediate closure and cleanup of the toxic dump site. The doctors referred to a recent report released by the state Water Resources Control Board, which cited evidence of several toxic chemicals in the groundwater underneath the dump. The chemicals, the doctors stated, were in concentrations several thousands times in excess of state drinking water standards.

The board currently is assessing the results of additional tests conducted at the site, said Roger Briggs, assistant executive officer for the state Regional Water Quality Control Board in San Luis Obispo. And at the board's Dec. 4 meeting, Briggs said, a recommendation will be made on whether the test results warrant closing sections of the dump.

Greenpeace decided to protest Monday in response to the groundwater contamination, said Bradley Angel, toxic campaign coordinator for the environmental organization.

Landfill officials refused comment.

The dump is the last of two toxic landfills in Southern California that are licensed to accept most types of hazardous waste. Last year a number of local doctors and residents urged the state to close the 250-acre landfill, saying that their health was in danger.

But last January, the state Department of Health Services ruled that the landfill posed no immediate threat to human health or the environment.

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