County Supervisor Faces Roundup of Complaints About Devil's Gate "Big Dig" Project

Meanwhile, Northern California jury awards $80 million to Sonoma County man who claimed his cancer was caused by the herbicide Roundup, which Los Angeles County crews recently used in Hahamongna

Published : Thursday, March 28, 2019 | 5:37 AM

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger faced complaints and concerns Wednesday in Pasadena about the County’s “Big Dig” sediment removal operation in Hahamongna Park above the Devil’s Gate Dam.

For more than an hour, local residents registered a host of fears and complaints about the project, from newly discovered fugitive dust particles, truck traffic and noise, and vegetation removal, to the use of Roundup, a controversial herbicide some allege may cause cancer.

Hours after the joint special meeting between Barger and the Pasadena City Council Wednesday morning, a San Francisco jury awarded more than $80 million to Sonoma County resident Edwin Hardeman, deciding that Roundup, a popular herbicide, had caused Hardeman’s non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The case could have local ramifications: Los Angeles County crews reportedly have used Roundup for weed clearing in the Hahamongna area.

County departments stop using Roundup after the County Board of Supervisors voted to end its use while investigating if the product’s application is “appropriate … based on potential environmental and health impacts.

Earlier this month, Pasadena Now and the Pasadena Weekly reported that the County had also sprayed Roundup inside Northeast Pasadena.

“I have a serious concern about the use of Roundup,” Councilmember John Kennedy told County Public Works Director Mark Pestrella. “We do know anecdotally that along Descanso Drive, the number of individuals who have contracted various forms of cancer.”

Councilmember John Kennedy said he had "serious concerns" about the Cpounty's use of the herbicide Roundup in Pasadena.

Kennedy also told the meeting of hearing a constituent describe the plight of his father, who had contracted cancer from what he believed were toxins left in the ground from JPL rocket fuels.

“It’s common knowledge,” continued Kennedy, “that there have been serious concerns about Roundup, or Glyphosate [its chemical name], and a number of juries have made a direct causal connection between that substance and cancer, so you can understand why some residents in the area would be concerned about the whole issue of transparency, given the fact that it took you some time to recognize that this was not a prudent way in which to remove invasive plants. Who decided on the use of this product?”

Pestrella told Kennedy that Glyphosate has been used in the US for many years for root and weed removal.

“There have been no signs or health indicators,” Pestrella said, “that have indicated that Glyphosate was a molecule for cancer-causing up to this point.”

Barger also defended the quick stoppage of the Roundup product by her office, and said, “As a cancer survivor, I am hypersensitive to the issue of transparency, and I do believe that, while the science is not in, there are people who have immune systems that have been compromised, that are probably more susceptible, and so, rest assured, that the minute that this was discovered by our office, …I was as outraged as anyone else.”

Another Councilmember seemed angered by the recent clearing of habitat in the Hahamongna area prior to beginning sediment removal.

“This was habitat obliteration,” said Councilmember Victor Gordo, of the initial work last month to clear vegetation in the area before crews begin to remove 1.7 million cubic yards of sediment.

Arroyo Seco Foundation managing director Tim Brick called the vegetation removal, “the most massive destruction in the area in 80 years.”

Brick also emphasized that his group, which is currently suing the County in two related cases, is not against the sediment removal, but wanted a “go slow” approach.

“Go see the destruction,” Brick told the council.

Barger was also lauded, however, for her actions in securing active ongoing air monitoring in the area by Air Quality Management District (AQMD) technicians.

Trucks are due to begin the actual sediment clearing in early April. The project is expected to last a total of four years.

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