Long Beach, California 2021-07-20 11:00:13 –
After more than three hours of driving from Wasco State Prison, a prison complex near Bakersfield that currently houses about 3,000 prisoners, officers Thomas Miller and Oscar Navarro take a large, stinky garbage chute at the Southeastern Resources Recovery Facility. Go up the 6 steps to. (SERRF) Terminal Island.
Two prison officers came to Long Beach to dispose of the drug. Prisons, police stations, and federal law enforcement agencies all frequently enter and leave waste power plants to burn seized contrabands.
According to Director Alan Foley, the plant has agreements with a total of about 200 law enforcement agencies, with 35-40 agency employees visiting the plant each month.
But while law enforcement is seizing more and more drugs each year, the future of waste-burning energy production facilities remains uncertain. Currently, SERRF is one of the only two facilities in the state that offers its services, and its operating contract will expire in 2024.
After the 30-year contract with Southern California Edison expired in 2018, the plant signed a power purchase agreement with the California Independent System Operator, an entity responsible for operating and maintaining the supply-demand balance of the state’s grid. did.
However, the revenue from that contract represents a portion of the revenue from the contract with Southern California Edison.
The power plant will continue to burn 400,000 tonnes of garbage, producing enough electricity to power 35,000 households annually, but its revenue will drop to about $ 6 million, according to Foley. That’s a quarter of the $ 24 million it once got from an investor-owned utility. ..
The city has extended its contract to operate SERRF until 2024, after which the future of the facility remains uncertain. “There is no answer yet,” Foley said. “It can close and stay open.”
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies need to get rid of confiscated drugs like never before. The amount of drugs seized in California by the US Customs and Border Protection (a client of the power plant’s largest law enforcement agency) has grown steadily over the past three years. Last year, state government field offices and border guards confiscated £ 264,000 of drugs. Drug attack statistics fiscal year.
Cannabis accounts for the majority of seized smuggled goods, with methamphetamine and cocaine coming second and third, respectively.
Although SERRF does not closely track the amount of drug burned each year, Foley estimates the current average to be around £ 450,000, confirming that weight has increased in recent years.according to Los Angeles Times Articles Opened in June 1992, the facility was then expected to burn an estimated £ 50,000 of drug annually. This is one-fifth of the current burning weight.
If a power plant is closed, law enforcement agencies can be in a pinch, much like when the state approaches SERRF to initiate a drug burning program.
Prior to law enforcement’s arrival at SERRF (or a sister facility in Stanislaus County), all departments followed their own policies regarding the disposal of seized drugs and burned them in desert open pits, crematoriums, and hospital incinerators. I did.
Evidence Control Systems Inc, a retired police lieutenant and a company that advises police across the country on the handling of evidence. Joseph Latta, president of the company, said:
Then, in the late 1980s, the California Environmental Agency determined that cocaine and certain other drugs were toxic substances that required special treatment. Incinerator of cocaine is subject to regulations passed in 1989. Completely banned for a period of timeThe confiscated narcotics are causing evidence lockers throughout the state to accumulate.
“They basically banned the burning of drugs, certain types of incinerators,” Foley remembers the regulatory environment at the time. “So where they were taking them, they couldn’t take them anymore.”
In 1992, four years after the waste power plant was founded, Foley said the power plant received a letter from the state requesting law enforcement agencies to dispose of drugs seized in incinerators. Stated. “This is our approach. We need to do this. There is no place for us to go. Our evidence lockers are full,” Foley said.
Since then, SERFF has become a place for California law enforcement agencies to incinerate drugs.
“I don’t remember going anywhere else,” said Ratta, who worked for Burbank Police for 30 years, including the Property and Evidence section, before becoming a consultant in this area. “It’s just been fixed for a long time.”
Mr. Latta said that the disposal of property and evidence is often an neglected part of the responsibility of many police stations, and the shelves of evidence lockers in several departments lined with confiscated drugs at any time from the 1990s to today. Said to leave.
However, for federal agencies such as Customs and Border Guards, seized drugs can quickly fill the entire warehouse, giving them a higher priority for disposal. Without SERRF, all law enforcement agencies with jurisdiction over California would have to find other options. This is a problem that hasn’t been addressed for 30 years. “No one else has seen anything else in this state since the 1990s,” Ratta said.