FRESNO, Calif. -

California officials are recommending allowing a major expansion of the largest hazardous waste dump in the western United States, even though some residents blame the dump for birth defects.

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control announced on Tuesday that it has issued a draft expansion permit that would allow the landfill near Kettleman City to expand by 5 million cubic yards.

The landfill, which is operated by Chemical Waste Management, currently houses 10 million cubic yards of hazardous waste.

Environmental organizations and residents have opposed the expansion of the 1,600-acre landfill for years. The landfill has been fined by state and federal agencies.

The dump's owners say there's no evidence linking the facility to the birth defects and cancer-causing chemicals there were too low to affect the nearby community.