Napa Valley Wine Country Wrestles With Chemical Contamination Controversy

"Famous for its lush vineyards and cherished local wineries, Napa Valley is where people go to escape their problems.

“When you first get there, it’s really pretty,” said Geoff Ellsworth, former mayor of St. Helena, a small Napa Valley community nestled 50 miles northeast of San Francisco. “It mesmerizes people.”

What the more than 3 million annual tourists don’t see, however, is that California’s iconic wine country has a problem of its own – one that has spurred multiple ongoing government investigations and created deep divisions among residents and business owners, including some who fear the  region’s reputation and environment are at risk.

At the heart of the fear is the decades-old Clover Flat Landfill (CFL), perched on the northern edge of the valley atop the edge of a rugged mountain range. Two streams run adjacent to the landfill as tributaries to the Napa River.

A growing body of evidence, including regulatory inspection reports and emails between regulators and CFL owners, suggests the landfill and a related garbage collection, recycling and composting business known as Upper Valley Disposal Services (UVDS) have routinely polluted those local waterways that drain into the Napa River with an assortment of dangerous toxins."

Shannon Kelleher reports for the New Lede June 9, 2024.

Source: The New Lede, 06/10/2024