Background and Timeline for Laytonville Landfills Between 1950 and 2017

There were two Solid Waste Disposal Sites operated by Mendocino County – one on the edge of the Cahto Tribe Rancheria and the other in a Laytonville residential area. The first site that was opened in 1950 and closed in 1968 because of toxic contamination. The other site opened in 1968 and was closed in 1993 because of toxic contamination. Both sites were improperly capped and have continued from that time forward to contaminate surrounding wells, springs, ground water, air, soil and discharge leachate into Cahto Creek, Ten Mile Creek and the South Fork of the Eel River.

Timeline of Key Events

1950 – The county leased the land for the first open burn dump (Solid Waste Disposal Site) located in the middle of a residential subdivision. On July 29, 1966, a letter was sent from Mendocino County Health Officer, C.R. Kroeger, MD and Director of Sanitation, David C. Long, R.S. to Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. indicating the need to close the first Solid Waste Disposal Site because of unsanitary conditions and open a new dump.

1968 – The first Solid Waste Disposal Site was closed and a new Solid Waste Disposal Site opened above the Cahto Rancheria.

1974 – Clean up and abatement order #74-95. David Joseph from the North Coast Water Quality Control Board determined that “The County of Mendocino is negligently or intentionally causing or permitting the discharge of leachate….” And “The discharge of said waste is unreasonably affecting the water quality in that it is deleterious to fish and other aquatic life which exist in said waters to a degree which creates a hazard to the public health since downstream waters are used for domestic and agricultural water supply and will therefore create a condition of pollution which threatens to continue unless the discharge of waste is permanently abated.” And, “Permanently abate the threat of any further discharge of waste to the waters of Cahto Creek and its tributaries by November 1, 1974.”

In the 1975 Waste Discharge Requirements Order #75-50, David Joseph from the North Coast Water Quality Control Board emphasized that there are wells in the vicinity of the landfill.

Pg 1, par. 4 states that “…however, some wells are present in the vicinity.” The well that provided water to the Hoaglin residence was one of those initial wells that were later tested in 1993 and found to be contaminated. (See NET Pacific Testing Report)

David Joseph makes the erroneous claim “Pg 1, Par. 5: “Land within 1000 feet of disposal site is unimproved forest and range land.” 

David Faulkner from Air Quality Control Board States in his letter dated March 10, 1993: “As the Laytonville landfill has many residences within 1000 feet of the perimeter and of the facility, it should have been classified in category I and testing should have been more thorough. Additionally, the ambient air testing was wholly inadequate for even a Category II facility.”

Pg 3, A. Discharge Specifications. 10. “There shall be no discharge of leachate or other liquid waste to any tributary of the Eel River.” Yet in a 1986 site visit response to complaint. Thomas B. Dunbar, California Regional Water Quality Control Board concluded that “Waste Discharge Requirements Order No. 75-50 have been violated and threaten to continue to be violated.” 

The Waste Discharge Requirements Order No. 75-50 was never followed properly and is not being followed today even after the Solid Waste Disposal Site has been closed since 1993. This site is still discharging leachate to the waters of Cahto Creek, a tributary of Ten Mile Creek, which is as tributary to the South Fork of the Eel River.

1987-88 – The first formal testing of the Solid Waste Disposal Site titled: “Air Quality Solid Waste Assessment Test Report for the Laytonville Waste Disposal Site” Pg 30 & 36 contain the results and location of extremely high concentrations of contamination.

1993 – Letter from David Faulkner, Air Pollution Control Manager from the Mendocino County Air Quality Management District indicating “inappropriate testing and a reference to the 1987 testing that showed high levels of ethylene dichloride, freons and methylene chloride.

Solid Waste Disposal Site Closed after public outcry over documented contamination.

1998 – Solid Waste Disposal Site capped improperly and or improperly maintained. (Site visit: 2017 Sandy Karinen, Senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control)

2000 – Cahto Tribe requests assistance from the State of California culminating in Technical Outreach Services for Native American Communities (TOSNAC)

2002 – The Cahto Tribe received a modest EPA One Stop Grant to support establishment of a Tribal EPA technology office. Grant objectives include development of GIS/GPS data skills, data management, reporting, and exchange systems.

2005 – Cahto Tribe Health Survey. Taken improperly and completely inaccurate. New health Survey in progress with early results demonstrating a high concentration of cancer clusters surrounding the Solid Waste Disposal Site area.

2016 – Multiple site visits from CalEPA and renewed effort to bring local, state and federal agencies to deal with the effects of the landfills on the population of Laytonville.

2017 – BIA testing: The BIA has made several site visits and performed at least two controlled tests on the Cahto Rancheria this year.

2017 – CalRecycle and CalEPA have coordinated to do testing on the landfill nearest the Cahto Rancheria.