$300M Napa Valley toxic contamination lawsuit filed; Pelosi, Newsom ignored warnings for years

California’s breathtaking Napa Valley wine country has allegedly been hiding a dirty secret for years, and Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi — both of whom have large vineyards in the area — ignored all the warnings.

After the Glass wildfire tore through the area in 2020, a group of waste collection and landfill workers who were sent in to clean up the mess say they were exposed to toxic chemicals.

Additionally, when the workers blew the whistle on “the politically connected Clover Flat Landfill” and its water- and air-polluting potential, they say they were the victims of retaliation and racial discrimination, according to FOX Business.


(Video: “Garbage & Greed: Trashed in the Napa Valley“)

Now, in a complaint sent to California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the workers are seeking from Clover Flat and Upper Valley Disposal Services a whopping $300 million in restitution.

Pelosi’s multi-million-dollar Zinfandel Lane Vineyard is located in St. Helena, and the city’s former mayor, Geoff Ellsworth, a self-described progressive Democrat, said he’s been warning her about Clover Flat’s potential to pollute the valley below for years, as well as the possible health issues it could create for locals after wildfires sweep through it.

“There’s a machine politic thing going on here — this is the backyard of San Francisco, and people have their second homes and their wine businesses,” Ellsworth told FOX Business. “But it doesn’t absolve them from taking responsibility for the laws in the area and the treatment of the people working here.”

The former mayor said he worked at the landfill in recycling 30 years ago, and he’s sought help from members of Congress — including Pelosi — the governor’s office, and state and local regulators to no avail.

The PlumpJack Group, a winery co-founded by Gov. Newsom and San Francisco billionaire Gordon Getty, includes the Napa wineries PlumpJack Estate, Odette Estate, and Cade Estate. Nearly one year ago, in August 2022, the group spent $14.5 million to purchase the 129-acre Oso Vineyard from Michael Mondavi Family Estate, but still, Ellsworth’s warnings were ignored.

“They blew me off,” he said. “Nobody would talk about it.”

Former Clover Flat supervisor and one of the complainants, Jose Garibay Jr., said the workers were not prepared for the fire cleanup but were sent in regardless.

(Video: YouTube)

“We didn’t have experience at all with these situations,” he said. “We didn’t have protocol for what happens in a fire, what happens in an emergency. We had no training whatsoever. But they did send us right after the fire to clean up the mess before officials showed up.”

“We were exposed to the gas methane escaping from the landfill, and leachate water,” Garibay stated.

Armed only with N95 masks and lacking any training on how to clean up hazardous materials, the former supervisor said he and his 15-man crew were forced to work 11- to 12-hour days.

“We were not supposed to be out there right after the fire,” he said, “and the company took advantage of that because we were not experienced.”

A week later, when officials finally showed up, Garibay said that evidence of some of the damage had been cleaned up.

Contrary to the October 2020 claims from the landfill’s previous owners, the complainants produced an inspection report from the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board indicating that “the site was severely impacted by the Glass Fire.”

It was after those events that Waste Connections Inc., the current owners of Clover Flat, purchased the landfill.

Gary Hernandez and Ricky Hernandez (unrelated) were employed by the landfill as garbage truck drivers. The complainants said they were forced to work while the fire was raging and the area was under an evacuation order. Both also claim that, during the height of the pandemic, they were pressured to work despite testing positive for COVID-19.

“I’m working with COVID, over there servicing Nancy Pelosi’s house, and she’s out there getting her hair done,” Gary Hernandez told FOX Business, referring to Pelosi’s infamous trip to the salon during California’s lockdowns.


Meanwhile, Ricky Hernandez was servicing the glitzy French Laundry restaurant, where Newsom reveled maskless in defiance of his own orders.

“If the Napa Valley wine and hospitality industries knew how bad the problems were they’d look into it because the contamination, fires and toxic smoke can’t be good for the grapes, wine, or the people who visit,” Gary Hernandez stated.

“Workers were sent by the company into evacuation and fire zones with no protective equipment,” he said. “Drivers like me weren’t even given masks. Workers didn’t know what the laws were, but the company should have.”

Melissa Fine

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