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The State

A construction firm covering selenium “hot spots” at Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge is apparently running out of fill dirt, nearby property owners said. Frank and Janette Freitas, who own a 5,500-acre ranch between Kesterson and the San Joaquin River, said Harry Stewart of Dutra Construction Co. called them asking if he could buy thousands of cubic yards of dirt from their ranch because his workers were running out of fill dirt at pits up to 15 miles away. Janette Freitas said her husband reminded Stewart that they have filed a lawsuit against the Bureau of Reclamation, alleging their ranch has been ruined by leakage from the Kesterson ponds. “We didn’t think it was a good idea to take polluted soil and pile it on top of other polluted soil,” she said. Stewart could not be reached for comment. Selenium leached from farmlands was funneled to Kesterson in drainage water and entered the marsh food chain, triggering deformities and deaths in waterfowl.


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