EXIDE VERNON BREAKING NEWS: LA TIMES EDITORIAL — How was Exide allowed to pollute for so long and endanger so many people? (This question needs to be asked and applied to Exide-impacted communities across the U.S./world)
Although the agreement with the Department of Justice is an important step toward cleaning up the community, it does not answer the central questions: How was a company allowed to operate for so long with so many violations that endangered so many people? And has the state done enough to ensure this never happens again?
The state and local agencies responsible for regulating hazardous waste, water pollution and air quality failed for years to address the public health risks posed by Exide’s operations. The state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control allowed Exide to stay open on a temporary permit for three decades. It took the federal government’s intervention to shut the company down and guarantee the cleanup.
The department’s new director, Barbara Lee, said at a state Senate hearing Thursday that she is committed to reforming the agency and protecting communities near hazardous-waste facilities. But the work of reversing decades of poor coordination among regulators and lax enforcement will require more than the promise of one director. Gov. Jerry Brown and state legislators must provide leadership and demand accountability. California may have some of the most protective environmental laws in the nation, but they are meaningless if not enforced.
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