Clean-up of Exide lead smelter site, Exide Vernon, Lastest News

EXIDE VERNON BREAKING NEWS: UPDATED – Community residents and environmental justice groups rally to urge California Gov. Jerry Brown for stronger laws against toxic polluters and to clean up Exide and the DTSC

RELEASE: COMMUNITY CALLS ON GOVERNOR TO CLEAN UP EXIDE & REFORM STATE’S TOXICS AGENCY

 URGE SIGNATURE ON SB 712 (LARA) AND SB 812 (DE LEÓN)

September 18, 2014

Senator Kevin de León, Rev. Msgr. John Moretta, and L.A. City Councilmemer Jose Huizar and Boyle Heights/South East L.A. Residents

LOS ANGELES – Urging Governor Jerry Brown to sign legislation to better protect their health from toxic pollution, religious leaders, concerned residents, community-based and environmental justice advocates rallied today with Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles). Senate Bill 712 by Senator Ricardo Lara ((D-Huntington Park/Long Beach) and Senate Bill 812 by Senator De León are efforts to steer the California Department of Toxics Substances Control (DTSC) back to its mission to protect public health. Both bills have been passed by the Legislature and are currently sitting on the Governor’s desk.

“These bills are needed to stop the bleeding,” said Rev. Msgr. John Moretta, pastor of Resurrection Catholic Church in Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. “Our residents deserve a commitment from the Governor that our communities will no longer be overlooked.”

Over the past year and a half, the Department has come under intense scrutiny for its failure to adequately address the contamination issues with Exide Technologies, a lead-battery recycling facility in southeast Los Angeles, which has been allowed to operate without the necessary permit for over 30 years, even as it has repeatedly violated toxic and local air quality standards.

“Communities across California are suffering from toxic exposures because DTSC lacks the commitment and political will to hold polluters accountable,” said Ingrid Brostrom, senior attorney at the Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment. “SB 712 and SB 812 provide critical oversight of the agency to ensure that DTSC meets its mandate to protect the public.”

In addition to the issues with Exide Technologies, DTSC has been mired by several controversies that have raised concerns about the Department’s ability to adequately manage hazardous waste facilities. These incidents and experiences have damaged the trust and confidence with the community.

“Governor Brown must sign SB 812. This legislation is the first, critical step in reforming our toxics regulator so that communities like ours, that have been poisoned, are cleaned up and protected from toxic harm,” said Xonia Villanueva, resident from Wildomar.

“Accountability for waste facilities violating state and federal health and safety standards is within sight. For too long, our communities have been victims of exposure to contamination and pollution from years of serious violations. My bill establishes a non-negotiable timetable for facilities like Exide to bring its facility into compliance or shut down. For the safety of communities in and around Vernon, I ask that Governor Brown sign this critical piece of legislation,” said Senator Lara, author of SB 712.

“I urge Governor Brown to sign SB 712 & SB 812,” said Senator De León. “Our residents deserve a clean and healthy environment.”

Participating at the rally were several residents and organizations, including: California Environmental Justice Alliance, Californians for a Healthy & Green Economy, Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice, Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment, Coalition for Clean Air, Communities for a Better Environment, Consumer Watchdog, Concerned Residents of Wildomar, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, Environmental Health Coalition, Environmental Working Group, Mothers of East Los Angeles, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER), People’s Senate, Residents Against Phibro-Tech, and Sierra Club California.

Over the past year and a half, Senator De León has repeatedly met with DTSC, held hearings, requested a report, sent letters, and authored legislation to institute permanent reforms of the department.

SB 712 (Lara) and SB 812 (De León) require accountability, transparency, and oversight measures of DTSC:

  • Requires Exide Technologies to have a proper permit to operate safely or be permanently shut-down.
  • Establishes a three year limit on permit renewal decisions. Requires DTSC to make a permit renewal decision to either approve or deny within three years from the original permit expiration date. In cases where no permit decision is made by three years from the original expiration date of the permit, a facility will not be allowed to operate. To help process permit renewals, facilities intending to renew their hazardous waste permit will be required to submit their full applications two years prior to the expiration date. These two years combined with the three years after the expiration date provides DTSC and the facility five years to resolve the permit application.
  • Increases transparency of hazardous waste management. Requires disclosure requirements regarding hazardous waste permitting, violations, and corrective actions to ensure accountability and information is more accessible to the public.
  • Ensures environmental justice communities have their voices heard. Creates a community-based oversight committee to improve accessibility, serve as a resource and liaison with the community and maintains a watchful eye on the Department.
  • Strengthens financial assurances. Ensures violators, rather than California taxpayers, assume the costs of harms caused by hazardous waste. Provides statutory clarity to ensure DTSC is able to require financial assurance instruments from polluting facilities for clean-up efforts earlier in the process.
  • Strengthens permitting standards. Adds criteria to prevent repeat offenders and irresponsible operators from receiving permits, and accounts for critical health, environmental and vulnerability factors.
  • Improves the State’s efforts to adequately recover its costs. Institutes recent recommendation of the State Auditor to peg the percentage rate on late fees assessed on polluting facilities to a percentage in-line with the Board of Equalization rather than the current rate of less than one percent. This is among a few factors which have resulted in nearly $200 million in unrecovered costs to the state.

For more info go to: http://sd22.senate.ca.gov/exide

MEDIA ADVISORY:

COMMUNITY RALLY URGING GOVERNOR BROWN TO CLEAN UP EXIDE & DTSC

September 17, 2014

Asking for his Signature on SB 712 & SB 812

What:  Boyle Heights & South East Los Angeles residents rally with environmental justice organizations for stronger laws on toxic polluters to protect the public’s health and safety.

Speakers:    

  • Rev. Msgr. John Moretta, Pastor, Resurrection Catholic Church
  • Roberto Cabrales, Communities for a Better Environment
  • Senate President pro Tempore-elect Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles)

When:  Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 1:30 p.m.

Where:  Resurrection Catholic Church in Boyle Heights (3324 Opal St, Los Angeles, CA 90023)

Visuals: Community Activists with Rally Signs

Participating Organizations:

  • California Environmental Justice Alliance
  • Californians for a Healthy & Green Economy
  • Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice
  • Center on Race, Poverty and the Environment
  • Coalition for Clean Air
  • Consumer Watchdog
  • Environmental Working Group
  • Mothers of East Los Angeles
  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
  • People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER)
  • People’s Senate
  • Physicians for Social Responsibility – Los Angeles
  • Sierra Club California

Bill Information:

  • Senate Bill 712 by Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach) would require hazardous waste  facilities operating under an interim permit from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to achieve compliance with federal and state hazardous waste laws and receive a final permit by December 31, 2015.
  • Senate Bill 812 (De León) would strengthen public health by providing permanent reforms of the troubled California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

FOR PLANNING PURPOSES CONTACT: Claire Conlon, 916-651-4022 / Claire.Conlon@sen.ca.gov

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