From the Riverside Press-Enterprise:

School districts, the U.S. Marine Corps and Caltrans are among the public agencies and private companies that improperly shipped more than 160,000 tons of hazardous waste to an outdoor soil-recycling plant in Mecca that did not have a state permit to accept such waste, a Press-Enterprise analysis of 2009-2010 state data has found.

The shipments to the 10-acre Western Environmental Inc. plant, located on tribal land near the Salton Sea, violated state regulations that require those who create or dig up such waste to dispose of it at state-permitted facilities.

Residents of Mecca, a predominantly Hispanic farming community in the Coachella Valley, have complained to public agencies about strong odors from plant. They say the smell has made children and adults ill, sending some to the hospital.

During a monthlong investigation, the newspaper analyzed more than 10,000 shipments of contaminated soil and other waste to the Mecca plant.

When presented with the analysis on Thursday, Stewart Black, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control acting deputy director for brownfields and environmental restoration, said: “In a nutshell, the waste should not have gone to that facility.”